Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

JC Penny is in trouble. Linens & Things is gone, Circuit City is gone, Border’s Books is gone, and Mervyn’s is gone.

But by contrast Bed, Bath & Beyond is still here, so is Best Buy, and Barnes and Noble. Target is still working.

America’s Buying Habits

Did these stores bite the dust because of bad management or were there another underlying events going on? Bad management on the part of Sears and K-Mart is undeniable and probably played a part in the demise of the others.

I personally feel that American’s has changed shopping habits for whatever reason.

Walmart and K-Mart in Bozeman were located across the street from each other. Walmart’s lot is packed while K-Mart is a ghost town. Why?

While both stores carry similar products at similar prices Walmart won out with shoppers. It could be its larger size, location, or any other one of a hundred reasons but the biggest reason is perception.

The Perception of Value

Consumers vote with the perception, in their own minds, of where the best deals are found. For most people the advertising done by Walmart has been very effective in creating value in the consumers mind.

Others are twisting in the wind trying to emulate what Walmart has done connecting with their customers.

Walmart Vs. Costco

Many people like to make this apples and oranges comparison. They could not be more different and also attract vastly different demographics.

Walmart, for the most part, is attractive to those lower on the income scale. Costco, on the other hand, caters to the more affluent shopper.

At Costco it costs $55 to $115 or so just to get past the front door. This kicks most low-income families to the curb right off the bat.

And while buying in bulk might make products cheaper per unit, the checkout numbers are much higher and out of the reach of many lower income shoppers. And, many low incomes may not have the space to store vast amounts of products.

Some Final Thoughts

To answer my own question — yes. The ways America shops are changing and will continue to evolve over the next few years.

Online shopping is making a tremendous change in how products are marketed, displayed, advertised and sold.

American’s are going to be the big winners in the years ahead. More and better products will be sold for lower and lower prices. So shop till you drop.

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