This is a personal commentary, and a peek into the new era of business and consumer behavior. I have noticed a change in my own shopping patterns and after a conversation with my Mother who lives in Florida, what I have been thinking about lately is happening all over the country.
Here in Massachusetts, business’s are slowly trying to “train” consumers to bring their own shopping bags. This is a town by town roll out, and it starts with the largest retailers first. This is being done because of the problems with plastic bags. Each store is handling this differently. Some are charging for bags right away, some are offering a lesser quality bag, which typically rips easily. Some stores are using this as a new revenue stream- they always provided paper bags, but are capitalizing on this change in plastics to now charge for the same paper bags they gave out before for free. And in some stores there is what I have called- bag shaming. The clerk or the bagger will ask “do you have your bags”, and if you say no- like you didn’t plan on stopping at the store and didn’t bring them- you get a look from them like you are now single handedly ruining THEIR planet, being SO selfish for your groceries. ( this is one of the things that makes me NOT want to shop).
If I don’t have any bags, and am not up for the shaming- I typically buy less. I will only get what I can carry in my hands. This is a very clear example of training the customer to buy less. Which is counter intuitive to me, I think. I remember the days when I was a cashier working retail, and the name of the game was AND we were incentivized for it, was add on sales. All the small items hanging around the cashier, those items on the counter are there to try to entice you to add on, AKA-spend more money.
A story my mother shared with me was from a recent shopping trip at Target. She shops at Target often for groceries and everything else she may need. They are taking away cashiers to ring up people. She commented to me, saying that she doesn’t want to do self check out when she has a basket full of groceries. Most of the people shopping there are mothers, many with their children with them and an over stuffed basket. These mothers can’t, manage small children, and spend 30 minutes trying so scan all their items. One of the things Target is known for is that ” you go in for one thing and come out with a cart full spending $100″. If they continue to challenge the full cart people- they will be training those customers to shop less too or worse shop somewhere else!
When service is scarce, and all mass retailers are vying for the attention and dollars of shoppers- I don’t know why they are trying to train us to shop less.
NOTE: Duane Reade is not the cause or reason for this commentary. This is just a fun picture of my favorite drug store. Every time I am in NYC for work or fun I find myself in a Duane Reade, so much so that my friend @joshymcb calls it “my boyfriend”.