« Is Canada's real estate bubble about to burst? | Main | Do tough times lead to increased employee pilferage? »

January 04, 2022

Will women keep the traditional shopping mall experience afloat?

Stereotypes are a funny a thing.

Stock-photo-17362847-shopping-activityOften, they’re wildly unfair, prefacing how we perceive a person or group before, you know, actually perceiving them.

Yet they endure, and even within the realm of economics, they are allowed.

Which is why, after a recent media report wondered if Amazon would kill the traditional shopping experience – move most commerce away from the real world to the online realm – a Forbes writer can come back and say, “No, no, women love  shopping, they’ll keep it afloat,” and we all shrug and move on.

First, the opening argument.

John Naughton writes on the Guardian's website that Amazon is choking traditional commerce in the U.K., muscling out traditional retailers and giving high streets a “gap-tooted look.”

*Bing: How is Amazon able to offer such low prices?

“A glance down any high street confirms that Amazon & Co. is beginning to make inroads into the urban landscape,” he notes. “The costs of running a bricks and mortar shop – in rent, rates, inventory, theft and wages – together with the wafer-thin margins of most retailers (excluding Apple and other purveyors of luxury goods) meant that it was a knife-edge business at the best of times.

“But the combination of recession and intensified competition from online is proving too much for some retailers, which is why high streets are beginning to have a gap-tooted look.”

Certainly, this is no new threat, nor is it a new observation to be made. But it is Naughton’s curiosity over the sociability of shopping – “I was stunned to find the city centre heaving with people (recently). Which led to the thought that, for many people, physical shopping is clearly an important social activity.” – that prompted another media outlet to weigh in.

Tim Worstall, a Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London and a contributor to Forbes.com, offers his own thoughts on the Amazon retail threat.

Paraphrasing his argument, Worstall believes that it will be women, who enjoy the social activity of shopping on streets and in malls, that may single-handedly keep traditional shopping above water.

“Do not dismiss stereotypes,” he writes. “They are based on a reality even if they do not describe reality in total.” Worstall then goes on to note that it’s “largely women who enjoy the shopping as the social outlet and largely men who have to be dragged screaming and shouting around the mall.”

What do you think? Is it still fair to label women, in 2012, as “shoppers”? And will women keep real-world stores afloat while Amazon continues to chip away at traditional commerce?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...