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BarnacleBill's avatar

Is "big box retail" dying?

Asked by BarnacleBill (16065points) October 2nd, 2010

The last time I went to Walmart or Target, it felt as if the store had lost some of the mass allure. The merchandise seemed of a lower quality than usual, the stocking was more disorganized than usual, the colors were drabber, the lighting poor, the configuration of the merchandise placement in the store made no sense.

I don’t shop “big box” very much anymore because my children are grown. (Actually, I don’t shop much in any form – mall, online, independent, big box). I can’t decide if it’s just me, or if something had changed. It used to be nothing to spend $200 in Target, on household items, things like socks, decor items, accessories, etc. The last two trips, I came out without purchasing anything.

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12 Answers

poisonedantidote's avatar

Where i live, its only just starting. for years we had an ikea and a supermarket, and the rest was all local butchers and local farmer shops, and farmers market. but that is all coming to an end in favor of a wallmart kind of store.

Nullo's avatar

The presentation (for Wal-Marts, at least) typically varies by store, depending on factors like store revenue, the quality of the employees, the quality of the clientèle, and whether or not they’re remodeling,

Perhaps you have grown more frugal?

Cruiser's avatar

On line purchases are affecting many businesses as is soaring overhead and an economy that has devastated many businesses. Corners are being cut across the board and I believe that is the net effect you are seeing now. Not sure if things will ever be the same again.

jca's avatar

I go to Walmart and Costco at least one time per week each, and I can tell you Walmart just remodeled most if not all of their stores. As far as things being messy, that may be the individual store, but they are generally restocked and tidied at night, and the stores are bright. As far as quality, most things at Walmart are from China, but that’s the nature of the NAFTA treaty and also people wanting things to cost less, and China is the place to get crap dirt cheap. Let’s just say I don’t think Walmart is hurting for business.

To answer your question directly, big box retail in general, which includes Staples, Bed Bath and Beyond, Kmart, Target, and other stores of various types are being built all over, which is sad, because you can go anywhere and the areas all look the same – big boulevards, big stores, big parking lots, lots of signs and lights and chain restaurants. The Main Streets, local flavor and rural areas are becoming less and less in favor of large businesses, I think.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@Nullo, I thought perhaps it’s me, but I don’t think so. I’ve always been frugal in the sense that I’ve never made a big deal out of buying brands or labeled clothing, or even what’s in style. There’s things that I really need for the house – new throw cushions for the couch, drinking glasses, pillows, sheets, new towels, etc.—that in the past, I would have just run into Target or Walmart, found something I liked, and buy it. Lately it seems like either the choices aren’t there, or the quality is poor.

@Cruiser, I think perhaps you’re right. I can afford to shop elsewhere, but my frugality drives me to Target or Walmart instead of other places to shop. So maybe the corners that are being cut are more apparent to me because my criteria for purchasing is different – I’m looking for department store quality at discount store pricing.

YARNLADY's avatar

In our area, Wal Mart is completely rethinking their marketing. They are talking about scattering small food markets around different neighborhoods. We have an empty store-front that used to be a Lucky Market, and they are currently in talks for it.

Part of the quality issue is due to environmental laws which prevent the use of various ingredients due to their toxicity.

Aster's avatar

I definitely noticed it when we moved back to Texas. I went to walmart and many of the shelves had empty spots or just plain junk. For instance, I had bought a wooden cutting board in the Arkansas walmart I like and I went to this one to get a new one. I found it; it was thinner, plastic and had fake wood grain. The grocery sections are fine but the household stuff looks like poor quality.
Eleven years ago I shopped at a particular grocery store and since we moved back I went in there and I imagined it would have been spiffed up in eleven years but it’s just the same as it was before. Looks like they haven’t put a dime into it. The owners have a chain of these stores, too.
I guess we can’t get into what’s happened to malls; off topic.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I found, too, that if I buy things at one Walmart, I can’t return it at another store unless that store also carries that exact item. Even with the receipt.

jca's avatar

@BarnacleBill : i have found that Walmart is very liberal with their return policy. i buy things in Walmart all the time and i return things often, often without the receipt, often in different stores depending what’s convenient, and they never give me a hard time. All i need is ID if it’s for a large amount of money, like over ten dollars.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@jca, I thought so, too. Apparently there are hybrid Walmart stores.

Target’s return policy is the best. If you know you paid with a check or credit card, they can find your purchase in their system by scanning your card or check routing numbers, and you don’t need a receipt.

cwilbur's avatar

Many things are cyclical. Walmart made inroads in many towns because it sold things for less money than the smaller stores. Now the smaller stores are starting to make a comeback because Walmart doesn’t offer the level of service they do.

Also, Walmart’s source of profits was its supply chain: both in being able to negotiate lower prices from manufacturers for buying in bulk and in having good inventory control so that they can predict how many units they’ll need. Once other people caught on, that became less of a competitive advantage.

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