Breaking: stores are getting smaller

Interesting article in this morning’s New York Times about how retail stores are getting smaller – whether Nike or Bloomies. Apparently, people don’t like wandering in cavernous big boxes where they feel lost. The author and corporate folks she interviewed spend a lot of time on the psychology behind why they are building smaller stores.

Except they left out one major point: the internet. People didn’t used to feel confused at Bloomingdales or Nike Town. We were used to wandering through different sections and, in response, cultivated eagle-eyed shopping abilities to sift through the muck until we found that one perfect item.

‘cept now we don’t have to do that. I can go to shopstyle.com and pop in whatever I want. Like ‘navy tights’ – and I get a nicely organized slideshow of a sizable handful of navy tights right there within my grasp (click). Without having to go to Macy’s Metro Center and search through eight displays of beige control top hose before realizing that no, they don’t have navy opaque tights. It’s genius and I wish I thought of it first.

The article, found here, missed the elephant in the room. Retailers saw their shadow during this recession and responded by making their stores smaller, selections more tailored, and specific items easier to find. But their shadow was the internet, and until they come to grips with that and look forward to what fixed-store retail looks like as a complement to an online presence, that shadow will loom larger and larger.

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