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SHOPPING AS NONSTOP BALLET

The heart of holiday shopping season arrived Black Friday yesterday. Stores busy, shelves overflowing with products, advertising wherever you turn, even videos of shoppers run amok. If you spend time in stores throughout the year as we do and see the activity through the eyes of a retail environment designer, you might marvel as the complexity and synchronicity of selling products at retail.
Display companies are part choreographers, part set designers, part stagehands. We set the tone, we manage the stage, we present the world of the store for the audience: shoppers.
Increasingly, that dance occurs both in stores and the virtual stores of the Internet. Probably 50% of American shoppers will have made a purchase online this past weekend. Does this spell the death of retail stores?
Of course not. People still love the intimacy, immediacy and interactivity of the store. Plus, many stores are doing an excellent job of catering to the wishes of omnichannel shoppers: people who wish to shop and buy whenever and wherever they choose. That means using a tablet in the kitchen in the morning, a PC at the office midday, a smartphone on the street after work, ordering by phone in the evening or the wandering the aisles of Target, Toys’R’Us or your local mom-n-pop store on the weekend.
Shoppers want to shop when they want to shop. That’s why you had stores open 24 hours a day and now on Thanksgiving. That’s why “blue laws” that once shuttered stores on Sundays exist few places today. Consumers – and consuming – drive our economy and the decisions of retailers to meet shoppers wherever they are. It’s a 24/7/364 dance of our own creation, America. Don’t look now but that 365th day – Christmas – is now at risk, too.