Retail shopping: A thing of the past?


Norstrom in Annapolis (Taylor Gordon)

December is here, and that means a few things. The weather will be crisper, Starbucks will have seasonal drinks available and the holidays are right around the corner.  With the holidays comes shopping.  However, the world of holiday shopping may never be the same again.  Why? Online retailers.

A survey conducted by the National Retail Foundation reported that 59% of shoppers plan to do most of their holiday shopping online this year, but what does that mean for the retail stores and the people who work at them?

According to some retail workers, the convenience of online shopping has created an inconvenience in their work experience.  

Fewer people seem to come in stores to make purchases, they say. But what is it about online shopping that’s pulling people away from the retail stores?  

According to Annapolis Mall employee Jamal Phillips, the answer is simple. “When it comes to online shopping it’s super convenient, you can do it from anywhere, and you have a wide array of options, a lot more than you have in store. At this point people want lots of options at their fingertips, coming to the mall seems like a major inconvenience to a lot of people now.”

Most employees of the Nordstrom department store within Annapolis Mall seem to understand the fade, “It makes sense, I do my shopping online too, there’s something exciting about getting stuff in the mail, or getting something that is sold exclusive online” says Clifford Wilson, a two-year retail employee.  

“The only thing it does affect is my commission, but I definitely get the consumer point of view.  You want to be the flyest person and sometimes that means your only option is online.  Especially if the stores don’t have what you want.”

But for some, it’s taken away from the authentication of their job. For Mellissa Mendenilla, who has been a sales associate for 14 years, she’s felt a disconnect from her customers. 

“Customers just want what they want; they're not into the browsing anymore, it’s all about getting what you want and getting out.”  

As a sales associate, she wants her job to feel genuine. “It’s certainly not the same, at times you get a customer that’s looking for another opinion or some help…but other times you’re just bagging up their purchases.”

According to department store managers, there’s only little to worry about when it comes to the shift in online purchasing. 

 “Although people are purchasing more online, it still helps the retail as a whole, they’re still purchasing from us, just not in the store and that’s good, Louizza Marin, the assistant manager of the children's department at Nordstrom Annapolis Mall, says.

"The only thing that suffers is my employees who work on commission and our store's individual numbers. But I think eventually people will venture back into the stores. There’s something about human contact, being able to touch the clothes and even trying things on that still appeals to people.”