Jan 10, 2024 - Business

A eulogy to Columbus' in-person shopping scene

Illustration of the shrug emoji holding shopping bags. 

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Thank you to our readers who provided tips and hot takes in response to my lament on the death of in-person shopping.

What you're saying:

Toni S.: Ordering online is easy, but returning items is time consuming. I understand maintaining a brick and mortar location is costly and finding staffing is difficult. However, not being able to touch, feel or try on makes me shop elsewhere.

Karen F.: It was always fun to go to a store or a mall, look at window displays, and see the product firsthand.

  • Online shopping is difficult. If you don't already have an idea of what you're looking for, then you're sunk — or else in for several hours of trying to search for the unknown.
  • I also miss the social aspect of in-person shopping. The fun of seeing holiday decorations, people-watching, or running into a friend and having a short chat.

Jenifer D.: I have ordered so many items online and the fabric is never what I expect! … Also, the fit never seems to be what I'm expecting.

Katherine F.: I generally won't buy pants or shoes online. The fit factor is a struggle for me for both and I agree with you wholeheartedly that all the time spent returning online purchases is a pain.

Lori K.: Growing up in the '80s, going shopping with my mother or with friends was the pinnacle of my weekends. Taking a few hours together, browsing, stopping for lunch, walking, and talking together throughout made it a great experience.

  • Now people have less time to dedicate to this — online shopping can be done in a short, convenient effort at any time you can fit it in a day. I miss shopping as a destination and hope that it makes a rebound.

Carol F: I am 75, between a petite size and regular and recently gained about 10 pounds. No idea what size will fit me. The stock is very low in-store and I am forced to try online, not knowing what size I am (which as you know varies by manufacturer).

  • … it's order clothes, they don't fit, back and forth to mail them back and try, try again.

Gregory H.: As someone who wears a size 13EEE [wide] shoe … I no longer have any meaningful brick-and-mortar options where I can purchase dress shoes, and it's almost as bad for running shoes.

😮 Yes, but: A couple of you said you actually enjoy shopping online.

Robin L.: Despite the hassle of returns, online shopping has been a real win for me. Stores are too hot and too chaotic.

  • Why would I go to a store and wander aimlessly in search of the exact color and size I want, when I can just have it arrive on my doorstep?

Della P.: As for online shopping, I do it all the time now. I joined Walmart+ so delivery is free. I've lucked out on sizes of clothes and shoes and never returned anything.

Go deeper: Columbus shopping malls transform into entertainment hubs

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