By Andrew Nusca
Posting in Technology
If you judge by people's actions and not words, the recession is far from over. Cost-conscious Americans are finding themselves thinking twice about purchasing items at the store, placing them in their shopping carts and then ditching them when it's time to pay up.
Cost-conscious Americans are finding themselves thinking twice about purchasing items at the store, placing them in their shopping carts and then ditching them when it's time to pay up, according to the Associated Press.
Consumers are "leaving sweaters in the dress department, dumping cookies near the grocery cashier and waiting until the last minute to judge needs versus wants," according to the article.
And the phenomenon isn't just in a physical store -- the same behavior applies online, where shoppers are filling up virtual shopping carts and then -- click! -- closing the window instead of actually buying anything.
The AP reports:
People "want to be in the act of shopping, but they don't want to be in the act of buying," said Joel Bines, a director at AlixPartners, a turnaround consultant.
It means more lost sales for stores at a time when there are already fewer customers because of the recession. For bricks-and-mortar shops already working with fewer staff, it also means higher labor costs because orphaned items have to be restocked.
Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but Burt P. Flickinger III, a retail consultant, estimates that in 25 percent of shoppers' trips to the store, they're ditching at least one item. In the recession of the early 1990s, it was 15 to 20 percent. In good times, it's more like 10 percent.
The act of ditching a shopping cart -- real or virtual -- is called "orphaning," and the few statistics available for this behavior point to a noticeable escalation beyond "window shopping."
Have you orphaned a shopping cart lately?
Aug 24, 2009
our prepaid debit card was rejected. we were not going to play a game of what to put back, like Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment. just left it at checkout. did not know what to keep and what to remove. as far as just going off and leaving the cart in the middle of the floor or frozen food in the men's socks section for spite, will not do that because we know the cost of spoiled food will be made up by us in the future. I will report parishable food I find in the wrong location.
Yes in fact a last year I played my own version of "orphaning" called "faked shopping". I left full carts at the front of Linens and Things, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Circuit City. Ha two of these stores are Out Of Business now in the east. I shop online now, and I am extremely conscious of coupons, incentives and free shipping. My carts are almost like - wish lists. And then I scrutinize each item AGAIN in my sales cart BEFORE I buy. I also won't entertain purchasing at any site that hasn't adopted decent security, My husband is in IT and taught me long ago to look for EV SSL, which to me means the Green URL Bar and an up to date certificate. Savvy, Shrewd, Security Conscious - call it what you want - we are saving some money in my house.
In general the only time I orphan a product is when some bright bulb puts an end cap near the door with a less expensive version of the the same thing I picked up near the back of the store. Put the same things near each other. The only time I've ever orphaned a cart was when there were 30 or so of us waiting to check out at three registers and after the third call over the speakers to staff the front I gave up. there were plenty of staff in the aisles, just none at checkout. I felt bad about that one, I had a bunch of meat and frozen items, but I was also on a tight schedule. This was before the unpleasantly common "Self Serve" checkouts. If I want to play cashier I'll get a job at the store. Maybe if you hired enough cashiers we wouldn't have so many unemployed.
When more people are taking the carts to turn them into homeless "mobile homes", that's when you should really worry.
Its pretty easy to measure the orphaning phenomenon online. Its gets a bit complicated on few online retailers because of MAP (minimum advertised price) - where retailer can't display the price unless the customer shows an intention to buy (ie adding to the cart). In my neighborhood and my personal actions, I have seen more crowds are cheaper stores like Smart & Final as compared of Whole Foods. Also, at our bbq or beer drinking parties, I noticed a trend of going for canned beer instead of premium bottled beer.