The American consumer has a new mind-set, and it has to do with making responsible, economically correct buying decisions. Such was the wisdom shared by Wendy Liebmann at the National Retail Federation annual Convention & Expo in New York earlier this month.
Liebmann’s comments were summarized in a convention wrap-up published by Chain Store Age. “We are seeing more prudent and cautious shoppers,” said Leibmann, CEO of New York-based WSL Strategic Retail. “They feel a sense of chaos and panic and a lack of control on big issues like gas and grocery prices and mortgage payments.”
Among other things, this means, according to Leibmann, that consumers are no longer defining themselves by the brands they buy and wear. The designer craze, she said, is pretty much over.
“It’s not just about having the right car or the right clothes anymore. It’s about good citizenship, products that are healthier and good for the environment, and shopping stores that support their causes.”
This could mean that stores that make public accommodations to these concerns (Think Whole Foods, which is getting ready to abandon plastic bags.) will win the hearts of consumers.
In such an environment as that described by Liebmann, retailers would be wise to green up their stores and emphasize value over fad.
“Middle America,” she said, “is caught in a squeeze and they are responding like lower-income shoppers.”
Smart retailers will act accordingly.