My sister and I were chatting about the demise of the department store. Barneys shuttered before COVID-19 was part of our lexicon, and Neiman Marcus just defaulted on their loans and is predicted to go into bankruptcy. The other big names are also on the ropes financially with uncertain futures. Neiman owns Bergdorf Goodman, the only department store I frequent. But, I don’t always go to BG to shop, more often I go to meet friends for lunch. I’m a devoted online shopper, but for my sister, who is from another generation, the store closures are making her question how she will shop for clothes in the future. So, I asked her to share her thoughts.
I have had plenty of time to ponder just how much adapting will be needed once COVID-19 runs its course. This global stress test has accelerated trends that we were perhaps slow to accept. What do we see more clearly now? That everyone needs access to good health care. That carbon emissions really do pollute our environment. That working remotely in a digital environment is…working. These are some of the many things we will come to accept as the new normal.
The future of retail shopping is another trend being brought up short by this pandemic. The heyday of department stores and retail malls is clearly behind us. We have slowly acclimated to the closures by turning to online providers. Our local malls are filling voids with non-revenue producing uses such as kids’ playgrounds. These changes were already set in motion long before COVID-19.
Assuming this trend towards the demise of retail accelerates in a post-COVID-19 world, we will be forced to find new ways to shop for clothes. Perhaps the “we” in the former sentence, is “we Boomers” who grew up with the Macy’s and Filenes of yesteryear.
I, for one, am a devoted Nordstrom shopper. At 68, I have been relying on Nordstrom’s offerings for over 40 years. Going to Nordstrom is the highlight of my spring and fall forays into the fashion world. It is there, with the help of a terrific personal shopper, that I discover what’s new and where I push new boundaries to find my style. For me it is more than simply shopping- it is an opportunity to reinvent myself.
So, should Nordstrom fall victim and disappear, I will need to adapt. The question is how. What will my future clothes shopping experience look like?
Susan Bastress is an attorney practicing international law in Washington, D.C.
Rosa wool-blend midi dress
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Cavalier wool blazer
Aiden sleeveless cashmere top
Hawes T-bar cutout leather pumps
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