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Retailers’ woe: Shoppers wise up


Impulse buying is on the wane, much to the chagrin of retailers, Bloomberg said.

The old maxim of getting shoppers in the door and selling them stuff they didn’t plan on buying is being turned on its head, Bloomberg said.

Impulse purchases require people to browse the aisles, and that’s happening less and less these days because Web-savvy consumers often already know what they plan to buy and simply pick it up and leave, said Bill Martin, the CEO of ShopperTrak.

These mission shoppers visit fewer stores — three per trip, down from five before the recession, according to ShopperTrak. As a result, foot traffic may fall 2.2 percent during the holiday shopping marathon, the Chicago-based firm said.

“There’s been a fundamental change in buying behavior,” Martin said.

Electronics stores such as Best Buy Co. Inc. are most at risk because it’s so easy to research gadgets online first, he said. Apparel chains such as Limited Brands Inc. may fare better because even mission shoppers have to stick around long enough to try on clothes.

Retailers are being forced to adapt at a time when they’re closing stores and trying to attract consumers made cautious by a 9.1 percent jobless rate, Bloomberg said.

“Most retailers are geared for people to come buy,” said consultant David Maddocks, a former chief marketing officer for Nike Inc.’s Converse brand. “Retail has to start gearing itself to sell, to get more out of every person that walks through the door.”

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