Has anyone else noticed that more and more consumers seem to be “cross-shopping” than ever before? I’m talking about those people who shop both the high-end luxury retailers and the discount or even dollar stores. I recently read an article that indicated one-quarter of all Nordstrom shoppers also shop at the Dollar Store. And, I started to ask myself if this trend is here to stay.
Two decades ago, shoppers were relatively loyal to one or two high-end retailers and wouldn’t have even thought of shopping anywhere else. Today, though, for any number of reasons, many shoppers (like the ones mentioned above) are buying from a wider variety of retailers. What could be driving this change? I think there are a couple of things: First is the basic economic motivation. People of all income levels are more driven to look for deals when times are tough. So, I think the recession played a major role in starting the trend. But, something else has happened to keep it going. The availability of “fashion-forward” apparel at many/most discount locations has certainly increased. Target offers higher-end goods and specialty lines, Kohl’s has discounted brand-name items, and stores like Zara and H&M have the latest styles at an affordable price. Think about it: There’s a broader range of alternatives for shoppers who are more price-conscious than ever before. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there isn’t a market for Neiman’s and Saks (luxury brands still provide better service, selection and quality). What I am saying is that there’s been a shift in loyalty. People just aren’t as loyal as they once were because they don’t have to be. There are other, often more affordable, options they can turn to.
I also think that retail brands themselves have changed. A few years ago, Macy’s was seen as a high-end brand name known for the occasional good promotion. Now, they are more of a bargain hunter’s venue, with deep and consistent discounting that, in my mind, moves them into a different category altogether. People are also doing more opportunistic buying and looking for that great find at a lower price; less “targeted” shopping in exchange for more browsing. I think Nordstrom has figured out the appeal of this needle-in-a-haystack approach and realized that their Nordstrom shopper is also a