Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Yesterday, I mentioned how my neighborhood Target benefitted from the pent-up need for Frances shut-ins to run out and start spending. This phenomenon wasn’t restricted to my little stretch of St. Pete: Shoppers all over the Bay area, even all the way up to Citrus County, indulged themselves.

Looking at this behavior as a release from, and reaction to, hurricane fatigue would be interesting enough. Looking at it as an example of how modern-day American consumer culture expresses itself, regardless of extraordinary factors, might be even more interesting.

The continuing theme among those interviewed was not so much a need to buy particular goods, but simply to get out of the house. It’s classic shopping-as-a-hobby behavior. The term “socialize” was even used.

But does running out to Wal-Mart qualify as socializing? That anyone believes so is, in a way, a testament to the continuing efforts by retailers to create customer-friendly environments in their stores — the marketers have won! I think it’s a stretch, though, to consider taking notice of other shoppers in the aisles as a truly social activity. Most of the time, you’re not even talking to anyone else. It’s like socializing minus the interaction.

The fullest manifestation of this is the traditional mall, and the subcultures you’ll find within: Mallrats, mall strollers (popular among Florida seniors), window shoppers, marathon shoppers, etc. Malls have striven to maintain comfortable, welcoming atmospheres for decades, and, despite recent backlash, have done a solid job of it.

All this suggests that the much-reviled consumerist streak in America is, perhaps, more ingrained into the American character than anyone guessed. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a bad thing. Like anything, people can overdose on it. But blended social-retail settings are acceptable for things like eateries; it’s not that much of a stretch to expand that to other retail outlets. The companies that pull this off are the ones that will be successful.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/07/2021 10:44:36 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Society | Permalink |

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