Retail Slowdown

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Alpha8472
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Retail Slowdown

Post by Alpha8472 »

Since the Christmas shopping season is over, I have noticed a major slowdown in retail sales. Even Walmart seems eerily empty than before. Everywhere I go, the parking lots are more empty and people do not seem to be buying as much.

Is it due to increased prices or is it due to Omnicron fears? Perhaps it is a combination of the two.

Target has gone back to closing at 10 PM and JCPenney closes at 7 PM on weekdays. Macy's and Nordstrom close at 9 PM. Best Buy closes at 8 PM on weekdays.
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Re: Retail Slowdown

Post by submariner »

More so than normal? Post-Xmas has always been a pretty dead time, which is why most retailers do inventory during that time.
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Re: Retail Slowdown

Post by storewanderer »

I was in a series of stores Thursday and they were very busy. Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, even Petco had 3 registers open at one point (not sure I've ever seen that before).

I was in many of the same stores today and they were very quiet.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas the stores did not seem nearly as busy as they have been in the past (even when thinking about last year).

I've been in multiple Wal Marts the past few days, they are quite busy, and understaffed.
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Re: Retail Slowdown

Post by Alpha8472 »

It seems that higher prices might have caused more people to shift to buying online for cheaper prices. It could also be that inflation could be causing people to do more shopping at discount retailers such as Walmart or Target instead of the other full priced retailers.

I was at Costco last night near closing and the lines were longer than normal. The Walmart was not too crowded, but still long lines. The mall stores seemed to be much emptier. I did notice that Walmart was running out of toilet paper. Walmart had been overstocked on toilet paper these past few months. Now the hoarding seems to be back again.
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Re: Retail Slowdown

Post by storewanderer »

Alpha8472 wrote: January 1st, 2022, 8:22 pm It seems that higher prices might have caused more people to shift to buying online for cheaper prices. It could also be that inflation could be causing people to do more shopping at discount retailers such as Walmart or Target instead of the other full priced retailers.

I was at Costco last night near closing and the lines were longer than normal. The Walmart was not too crowded, but still long lines. The mall stores seemed to be much emptier. I did notice that Walmart was running out of toilet paper. Walmart had been overstocked on toilet paper these past few months. Now the hoarding seems to be back again.
In stock condition just isn't what it used to be. I am noticing very "hit" paper products shelves at many retailers lately. They aren't empty, but they are close. What I notice this time is the different brands do seem to be replenishing and you have a lot of choices. Canned pet food is having a really hard time; right now, even some retailers that previously stayed in stock, seem like they can't stay in stock anymore.

I am not surprised mall stores are emptier. Aside from a couple purchases at Macys, I didn't buy a thing from the local mall this year and only went into it a few times. When I went in, I was ready to leave not long after I arrived. Unkempt stores, disinterested staff, too many people loitering in the mall who don't appear to be customers. I think many consumers have left the mall for good and just go to Target now. Maybe if malls had kept a full store assortment and not shifted to a bunch of clothing stores and ditched things like the variety stores, pet stores, arcades, etc. they would be in a better position.
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Re: Retail Slowdown

Post by Alpha8472 »

I totally agree about malls these days. Back in the 1980s there were really fun pet stores at most malls. You could see the puppies and kittens. There were aquariums and birds on display. There were also arcades and skating rinks. Many malls had movie theaters and really nice food courts. There was Suncoast Motion Picture company where you could buy videos.

There were video game stores where you could buy Nintendo games. Nintendo and other game consoles were very popular back then. There was no internet and very few people had cellular phones. There were Pizza places and Ice Cream shops.

I remember that there was a Walgreens at Sunvalley Mall in Concord, California that was very much like a variety store. It did not have a pharmacy. Instead, it sold many different products. It was like a higher priced dollar store, but with interesting stuff that you actually wanted to buy.

You could spend the entire day at the mall, and there would so much to look forward to. You would see friends there and meet new people.

Now malls seem so bland and desolate. There is nothing to draw you back.
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Re: Retail Slowdown

Post by Bagels »

I agree it’s nothing out of the ordinary. During the Great Recession, many stores had interesting hours following Christmas. For example, some JCP and TJ Max locations were open 2PM-7PM, Best Buy was closed Monday and Tuesday, etc.
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Re: Retail Slowdown

Post by storewanderer »

Alpha8472 wrote: January 2nd, 2022, 12:00 am I totally agree about malls these days. Back in the 1980s there were really fun pet stores at most malls. You could see the puppies and kittens. There were aquariums and birds on display. There were also arcades and skating rinks. Many malls had movie theaters and really nice food courts. There was Suncoast Motion Picture company where you could buy videos.

There were video game stores where you could buy Nintendo games. Nintendo and other game consoles were very popular back then. There was no internet and very few people had cellular phones. There were Pizza places and Ice Cream shops.

I remember that there was a Walgreens at Sunvalley Mall in Concord, California that was very much like a variety store. It did not have a pharmacy. Instead, it sold many different products. It was like a higher priced dollar store, but with interesting stuff that you actually wanted to buy.

You could spend the entire day at the mall, and there would so much to look forward to. You would see friends there and meet new people.

Now malls seem so bland and desolate. There is nothing to draw you back.
I find this to be a problem unique to US-based malls.

It used to be the mall was the place to go for basic need type items, clothing, entertainment (both products and services), then the fun things like toys, pets, gadgets (Radio Shack, Sharper Image, etc.), some malls had fabric stores inside (think Halloween Costumes or school art projects for kids). Now- what is there- a bunch of clothes. Cell phone kiosks, some jewelry stores; but to get to the mall you just drove past a lot of other places that have cell phones including probably a corporate store run by whatever carrier you want to purchase from... and how often does the average consumer need to visit a jewelry store?
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Re: Retail Slowdown

Post by buckguy »

The 80s were when malls really homogenized, which was probably the beginning of their downward slide--every mall came to have the same stores and people easily moved on to a new mall if their old one wasn't keeping up or was in an area that had seen better days. By then, the developers had had dwindled in number and usually had a formula for how they built a mall. The fountains, plantings, etc. things were relics of earlier malls and not features of newer malls. The cheaper clothing and shoe chains began disappearing (most of them went out of business because of changing styles or demographics). Variety stores and drug stores were no longer tenants in new malls (the variety stores stopped going into malls during the 70s, drug stores shortly after). The jean store chains began to thin out, too. The next generation of mall stores weren't exactly upscale but were more expensive than their predecessors. Non-apparel stores began to disappear and the local/regional chains also disappeared, although that was mostly because of their demises.

At the same time, off-price retail began to develop. Stores like Marshall's and TJ Maxx went into old variety stores and dry goods JCP locations or former chain discounters in the older strips that malls had eclipsed. To some extent they took over the price points that the less expensive mall stores once had---another piece of why malls failed.

If you go to other countries, malls are much like they were in the earlier days--more varied pricing, more non-apparel stores. There's often a formula, with big space users like furniture or electronics on upper floors along with food courts to drive traffic there. Past their peak malls also seem to evolve in different ways--more like market places, but this is in countries like Thailand or parts of Europe where there is a long tradition of such places outdoors with small stalls. Bangkok has a couple smaller malls that failed initially but then redid themselves as electronics marketplaces. My guess is that US malls became more dependent on national apparel chains because they had the sales/square feet (in the beginning, anyway) to crowd out other stores as tenants because that was the basis for rents.

Given the pressure to ever increaser return on investment, malls haven't been able to successfully recalibrate what is successful with a different mix and the mall goes from national to no-name to no tenants and then just costs a lot to maintain. There are developers that specialize in older grocery-anchored community shopping centers and seem successful at reviving them, but no one has emerged in the mall world to do that. Instead, they seem to get bought by vultures who let them decline further. At best, they get bulldozed for a Walmart or a big box center, but the number of locations for those developments have been dwindling for years. Other uses like churches and medical malls usually can only take a fraction of the space, which is difficult to reconfigure for other uses. Most places and esp. those in decline really can't absorb a million square feet of commercial space very quickly.
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Re: Retail Slowdown

Post by mbz321 »

Anecdotal, but as a Costco employee, our store was slammed all week from the Monday after Christmas through New Year's Eve. The week before leading up to Christmas was strangely a lot slower than usual.
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