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January 29, 2009

Shopping has gotten harder

On several separate occasions lately I've gone shopping for specific items but returned with nothing. It seems so much harder to buy stuff these days.

I went shopping for a coffee mug. That should be a very simple and straightforward purchase. I stopped at a few places including Walmart and was unable to find anything other than a single set of tea cups, about a half dozen or so in the package. I was baffled.

Jeans used to be the easiest thing to shop for. With the brand and two numbers in mind, you could pull exactly what you wanted off the shelf and walkaway. Not so easy now, that model number seems to change and disappear constantly. The product and sizing is incredibly inconsistent. I have many pairs of "identical" jeans -- the same brand, model and size, and yet no two are anywhere close to the same. They use different materials, fit differently, have different size pockets, etc.

Shopping for many other items seems to run into "seasonal" issues. The products are only stocked during some "season" the retailer has defined, which may or may not make sense for the item. The products will arrive on shelves shortly before the season arrives, but not early enough to be bought much before you need them and disappear off shelves shortly before the season ends. Soon after the season starts though, the stock is dwindled and never replenished. Out of season it's impossible to find the items.

For other items, when I'm shopping for a specific brand and model, it seems very difficult to find a retailer at all. Contacting the manufacturer, distributors and retailers indicated often ends with no results, no one will sell me the product I want to buy. Seems counter-intuitive for a salesman to ignore a sale.


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