Retail Therapy…we all know what that means. When the stress goes up, the tough go shopping. But, sadly the options of brick and mortar stores are decreasing. On April 10, the IBD Weekly (Investors Business Daily) headline caught my eye: The Death of Retail. This was an assessment of the many store closings happening before our eyes. I think everyone expected Sears and Payless Shoes to always be around, but, the times, they are changing. It seems the experts all attribute the changes to the growth of online shopping. However, I wonder if anyone is really listening to the customers.

Days after this article appeared, women went online to voice their opinions….and they had a lot to say. The assumption is women prefer online shopping now, but that is an assumption and really far from the truth. Here is a summation of comments made by the shoppers:

I am almost 80 and still enjoy shopping. The lack of customer service however is appalling. A “Hello” from somewhere in the store as you enter does not take the place of good customer service. We will lose an important part of the shopping experience if we lose the brick and mortar stores.

I’ve been looking for new tops/shirts for spring. Several times I’ve been to the mall and left discouraged and upset. In all of (certain brand) women’s departments there were only two sales people and they were at the purchase kiosk. The woman who I tried to deal with was bored, unhappy and not interested in my purchase at all.

I think when the larger chain stores moved the cash registers out of each department and converted to one main kiosk it started the beginning of their demise. It’s like shopping in a warehouse.

If retailers would carry their ‘tall’ sizes in their brick and mortar shops, I would be there. Alas, those sizes are always online only. Why bother going to a store and trying on clothes that will never fit? I go to the store to return online purchases only.

I do enjoy trying things on in the comfort of my home, which is a perk of online shopping. I do not enjoy packaging things back up to ship off a return, or making a trip to a store just to make a return. I note increasing disparity in sizing even in the same or similar brands. Quality of the clothing is frequently not good. I want good quality, basic colors, and I do not wear athleisure or whatever the new trend is in clothing. I don’t see that trend as a good thing. Seriously, one thing that has turned me off on brick and mortar stores is making the trip there, only to learn the sale ended yesterday or isn’t on until tomorrow….all the special promos, the upselling, the trying to sell you a credit card at the checkout. By the time I am home I am exhausted, and usually didn’t find what I wanted or needed.

Excellent customer service, face to face contact and stepping away from the screens that invade our lives are extremely important for the Human Condition. I hope it will not be the case of “that we don’t know what we’ve got until its gone”…..

I have stopped shopping online after one too many bad experiences of buying something that was supposed to be a certain color and arrived in a strange color; or that was called “leather” but upon arrival it was clearly PU; or claimed to be silk but is clearly polyester. Or the wrong shade of a color — poor or misleading photography. I am SICK SICK SICK of it, and will never shop online for clothes again, except for specific, known brands that are not being shipped from China.

I don’t shop online for clothing very often and only on a website where I know the quality of the clothing because I’ve been to the brick and mortar store. To me online shopping is like days gone by where we shopped from catalogs because we didn’t have the stores close to us. I live in Canada and the shipping from online stores which are mostly US based is ridiculous. It can add as much as $40 to your order. I sure hope we don’t come to the place of losing brick and mortar stores. I do agree with the issue of customer service, it’s definitely not what it used to be.

This is just a sampling of what women had to day. So, San Antonio Women, what is your opinion about shopping online vs. the stores? If you have left the stores, what will it take to get you back?

Just to be clear, I am a fan of the store! I love the whole experience and believe I save time and money by going into a favorite store or boutique. Less time returning items!

Now, it is your turn!

Pamela Lutrell
San Antonio Woman Editor