Skip to Content

StarFREE! Wardrobe Checklist Download + Weekly Newsletter DOWNLOAD

Group Discussion: What is the Future of Retail?

This content has been archived. It may no longer be relevant

The fall out from the COVID 19 shut down has had a devastating impact on industries like travel and hospitality, to name just a few. Imagine waking up one day and realizing your business or career is either extinct or looks completely different with zero warning, through absolutely no fault of your own. 

It’s heartbreaking.

Experts say, though, that these industries are resilient, that demand is there, and if they can get through this, there is a path back to their previous success.

AirB&B, for example, came out earlier this week and said that it had more US bookings between May 17 and June 3, which encompassed Memorial Day on May 25, than the same time period a year earlier

Everyone I know is trying to do something this summer and is happily spending money and rallying behind as many small businesses as possible, because it’s important to all of us and our communities that they survive.  

But the impact on retail, specifically fashion retail, and its supporting industries is going to be a much different story.

What is the Future of Retail?

an empty corridor in an indoor shopping mall

The retail industry faces its own list of difficult, and complicated challenges, and while COVID has made an enormous impact, one could argue it only speed up the inevitable.

For years the industry has been in flux, and now it’s an absolute mess.

Malls have seen a dramatic drop in foot traffic long before mandated shutdowns.

Retailers trying to create more of an “experience” within their stores had varying levels of success, often making it more difficult for the customer to shop.

Quality has dropped, prices have risen. 

Many manufacturing and sourcing practices are still archaic, lack oversight, and create severe environmental impact.

Retail is a complex web that needs a total restructuring to meet the needs of modern society. 

Lack of Goodwill

But perhaps the biggest issue is the lack of goodwill between consumers and brands.

For YEARS retail at large has ignored cries for expanded – or inclusive sizing.

It’s 2020, and the overwhelming majority of inventory still only goes up to a size 12.

It’s just too hard to shop. It’s too expensive, limiting and frustrating. 

And for whatever reason, it feels like retail only markets to 25 years in Southern California (no offense) or the extremely affluent who don’t blink at a pair of $600 jeans. 

They assume everyone is a size 2, white, and lives a life of leisure. 

My job has always been to shop for women. Whether it was when I was a buyer, a personal shopper, or now as a content creator. The basis of my job is finding practical solutions that are chic and stylish for the average American woman (and our friends around the globe).

Shopping is as Impossible as You Think

If you’re petite or plus size they have limited you to online only. That’s right, most American department stores and some speciality stores took special sizing off their selling floors. Meaning you cannot walk into a store and buy anything.

If you’re a woman of color, you are often not even included in the conversation. I can walk into any store and buy a neutral-to-me bra. If you have darker skin and want a neutral-to-you bra, or pair of pantyhose, or a shoe that matches your skin tone – you’ll likely have to place a special order, if it’s even available. 

Just a few months ago, I went to the mall looking for something special to wear to my 40th birthday party. I decided I was going to treat myself and buy whatever I wanted. 

Something as simple as a party top for a grown woman was a total bust. 

I can home with a pathetic sweater. 

It’s like the stores are telling us, point blank, who they want to walk through their doors.

Retail has never cared about consumers. And these public promises of transparency and diversity amid two national crises feel like a marketing ploy rather than real, needed change.

And if a brand is actually serious about it, it is going to take years to see real change.

The Long Term

So here is what I think will happen. 

The brands that make ethics, inclusion, and community building a priority will succeed but it won’t be easy. They have to cut through the noise, align with trusted voices and figure out how to compete with Amazon. 

Malls will never go back to what they were. As a destination, I think as long as people have to wear a mask, trips to the mall will be transactional instead of a leisurely day off. 

And that’s an issue for their bottom line because the longer you’re there, the more you spend, and if there is no impulse spending, stores and malls will ultimately close.

We’ll see so many more bankruptcies like J.Crew and total closures like Sears and J.C. Penny.

Some brands will hopefully expand their offerings, maybe Nordstroms will get it’s act together and start offering merchandise again that meet the needs of the average woman.

Sadly, small boutiques are going to continue to struggle. It’s too hard to compete with Amazon, their prime shipping, and prices. 

I Want to Hear From You

I love creating this content, and I want to make sure I continue to evolve with our readership. My commitment to inclusive sizing continues to be top of mind as well as offering an assortment of price options. 

I’m fortunate that I worked with real women, of all shapes, sizes, races and lifestyles, for over a decade. Inclusion is easy for me except for the fact that I’m limited to what is being offered.

So for you, as the consumer, what are your priorities?

How important is price point?

Would you spend more for ethically, responsibly sourced brands?

Realistically, would you compromise quality for better pricing? Or would you prefer to spend more for higher quality?

How important is size range and inclusivity?

What “perks” do you look for from retailers?

Are you okay with longer shipping times, or do you expect Amazon shipping speed across the board?

Tell me in the comments below – there are no wrong answers!

Our Content is Inspired by Our Readers

Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist View Post and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

Some links are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via our site, we receive a small commission.

If you enjoy our content and would like to help us grow, please consider following on Instagram and join our Private Facebook Group to access more advice and exclusive in-depth conversations with other like-minded women.








Group Discussion: What is the Future of Retail?

Related Posts

 Join Megan Kristel for a comprehensive, 3 hour long, LIVE Virtual Workshop sharing personal style and shopping tips for women over 40 on March 31, 2023.


Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

Never Miss a Post

Enter your email address below to sign up for our newsletter and get your free copy of our Wardrobe Essentials Checklist sent to your inbox.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Carolyn Scholl

Friday 12th of June 2020

I am 5’1” and I was truly disappointed when Lord and Taylor in a mall close to me stopped having a petite department - what? I was searching and had to ask and was told they decided to eliminate it from the store. That was the last time I was in a Lord and Taylor so they successfully got rid of me as a customer and now I hear they will not survive.


Friday 12th of June 2020

I am a retired (62) petite slim woman - I have never enjoyed going to the Mall. Always felt invisible to staff of major dept stores (Macys, Nordstrom, Sax Fifth Ave etc). It was never pleasant to be ignored. As a career woman for 30 years in corporate law, my go to forever has been Ann Taylor. High quality and reasonable prices on sale. I still buy online frequently as their sizing is consistent and I like nice things! I will shop TJMaxx and Marshalls as well for very casual clothes, swimwear and the like. Shoes and handbags are always DSW (online) and Vince Camuto online as well. Quality over quantity has always been my mantra and I always wait for the sales. I tried Ebay and Poshmark and will never use them again. Only bought NWT but found shipping to be outrageous and frequent false or misleading descriptions. I also have been a big consignor for many years and use my earnings to recycle for new things. I believe retail is in the dying stages and I for one will not miss it.

Jan T.

Friday 12th of June 2020

Shopping online is difficult because I am a tough fit. Petite but curvy and short waisted. Just finding a tshirt or tank is challenging due to length. I do not feel comfortable shopping ina store due to Covid but relied on stores prior as I need to try things on. I feel for retailers but as a petite woman it has been a tough road.


Friday 12th of June 2020

God! Please help. I used to love to shop and as I get older (I'm 53), it just gets more frustrating. I feel as though all I'm doing is running back and forth to the post office or UPS store for my returns. I'm still in pretty good shape (size 8-10 regular) so I don't like wearing baggy, shapeless items for "older women" but I also don't want to wear ripped up jeans for a 23-year old either. I am having difficulty finding that in between style anywhere. And, I can't imagine the frustration for those who require special sizes (petite, tall, etc.)

So many of my favorite boutiques are closing -- even before COVID -- due to online shopping. Nordstrom is my "go-to" because of free shipping and returns. But, even Nordstrom is getting old to me. I do not need any item that ships the next day so yes, I am willing to wait a week or two to receive any items ordered online. I invest in good jeans, blazers or jackets. Other than that, I like a good deal, but only if it fits my body type.

Trying to purchase a bathing suit during quarantine was a nightmare. I bought about 8 suits and kept 1. Don't really love it but I needed one so I'll make due.

Anything you can offer to guide us to sites with better quality clothes that are environmentally-friendly and make locally would be preferred. Thank you for your insight.


Friday 12th of June 2020

I couldn't agree with you more. For over two years I have been saying to my husband "what is wrong with the retailers? Why can't they get their act together?" I am not a marketing expert but even I can walk through a store and tell you that they are really missing the mark on what consumers want. Some of the smaller stores have decent customer service, but many of the larger stores and chains JUST DON'T CARE. That's the feeling I get when I shop. The powers that be who run retail stores don't care. If they did, they would offer the products that people want, get them to you in a timely manner, make returns easy, offer product to suit everyone (not just teenagers or people with lots of money) and they would focus on CUSTOMER SERVICE! It absolutely infuriates me to walk into a store and need some help or guidance from the sales clerk and have them just shrug their shoulders and walk away. They couldn't care less and I've even been in stores where the clerks actually walk in the other direction if they see you (I'm talking about you Walmart!). Maybe the 22 year olds don't want store staff approaching them to offer help and just want to left alone to buy their $10 throw-away tee-shirt, but I'm 52 and I prize customer service. That's the one thing they can't offer as easily in an online retail environment. The staff in a brick and mortar has the opportunity to make you feel special and help you in many ways that an online store can't. How much more clothing would a store sell if they had staff there to assist you - "can I offer you another size or colour in that item? We got some new tops in last week that would go beautifully with those new jeans". Things like that! I think the stores would sell 10 times the product if they offered that kind of help. I have 14 and 18 year-old daughters and they want the disposable clothing but even they appreciate it when a staff runs to get them another size in something that doesn't fit when they are trying on clothes. In my age group, I would rather buy quality and buy something that didn't turn rivers blue in another country. I am tired of the brick and mortars complaining that they are losing business and can't compete with online shopping. Stop complaining and start doing something! You're right, it won't happen overnight but they had better get their acts together or it's lights out.

Jennifer Parker

Friday 12th of June 2020

I hate to buy online because it is too difficult to tell quality and color. I am 5’3” and slim, but even so, I have difficulty finding well fitting clothes that are appropriate to my age (late 60s). I look terrible in black and white, so that limits my options right there. The fiction that everyone looks great in a little black dress needs to end! I also don’t do shorts, capris or skinny jeans, but I like a relaxed style, not tailored. I have some quality clothes that I have had for a long time and still enjoy wearing, so I would definitely advocate paying more for quality and owning fewer items. I used to like Eileen Fisher and I still buy from them occasionally, but for the most part their styles now are too baggy and shapeless. They claim to support the environment in their processes and I admire that, so I hope it is more than just marketing claims. Cheap usually means some factory worker somewhere is being pressured to come every day (whether sick or not) to a low wage job just to survive and support their family, so I feel a certain amount of guilt about buying into that system. I suppose those producing high end garments work under the same conditions, so I would like to see retail respect not only the consumer, but also those who produce their goods.


Friday 12th of June 2020

I'm a single working 37 yo right now, things will change my status one day and then my priorities will changed too. But for now when it come to shopping and retail I look for comfort & material, fit, quality, and price. I'm at the point where fast fashion is not appealing and I buy items that will last long term or go with my own sense of style. If I find something I love, I will by more than one (think that perfect white tee). Prices are very important too, that perfect tee has got all the boxes checked off. I shop around, compare prices, and also watch items for the best deals. Last year's or years' items can be less expensive later on. However, if there is an item that I've been searching for and perfect, my max is about $150. I'm also not against getting dupes. Would you spend more for ethically, responsibly sourced brands? It is with in my budget to do so, however, I selectively shop. If I have no need for that sweater from Patagonia but just covet it, then nope. I ain't getting it brand new. I'll just shop secondhand for something similar or pre-loved. But I must also say, it makes me proud to support such responsible brands when I do. I'm also 5'6", 110 lbs, straight and narrow. I have a problem with items being too large. Shoes, pants, and dresses are the hardest to shop online for and I use the stylebook app to help me keep track of what brands have items I can wear. Once I've found a brand that has sizes in "me" then it goes on my awesome list and I tend to check those brands out first before shopping others. Perks aren't a huge deciding factor for me, but if there are coupons for signing up for email alerts, I'm there. I won't get any paid memberships. It's never worth the money. However, something like a store credit card, I will look into that if I purchase from that store all the item. I do love Amazon Prime shipping, but with that said I understand not all companies can afford to do what Amazon does. I recently purchased that straw clutch from Amazon... it'll be a month before I receive it, it's shipping from another country. That I find disappointing. I would prefer to support US companies because I live here and I want our economy to grow. However I'm not needing it "now" so I can wait. I do have normal expectations when it comes to shipping, 1-2 weeks (including the processing time). I still remember when it took much longer when shopping from physical clothing catalogs were a thing. Everything is digital now, time is shortened.


Friday 12th of June 2020

I would love to know what you think about some of the subscription boxes. They seem sort of pricey, but since dry cleaning is included, maybe they are worth the price?? As always, your content is fantastic and so helpful!!

Megan Kristel

Friday 12th of June 2020

Thanks Emily, your nice to say that. I've done Stitch Fix on and off. I like the concept, but I'm not a fan. The issue, for me, is that I end up keeping pieces I only kind of like, and then I end up with a closet full of stuff I'm lukewarm about :) I did like it when I was pregnant, a box always showed up when I needed something, so that was nice, but generally, I was never sent a piece I absolutely loved.


Friday 12th of June 2020

I used to love to shop! However, now that I am a mature woman with a family and other priorities, I am so thankful for your content! I don’t have the time or patients to rummage through racks of clothes! I would rather rely on good reviews and suggestions than go out on my own and get overwhelmed by all of the choices at the mall! I am almost 50 and I would rather own a few good pieces and invest in the quality than own a lot of just mediocre items that get pushed aside! Also, items made in the U.S.A. are important to me. Thank you for sharing your insights! You have been very helpful to me over these past 6 months:) Tracy-

Vanessa Vila

Friday 12th of June 2020

This is a great discussion! Thank you for bringing up so many great points. I agree with you--many stores will close, online sales will go up, and small boutiques will (continue to) struggle. Full disclosure, I work for Kontoor Brands (owner of Wrangler and Lee Jeans), so I see things through a slightly different lens. One thing I am VERY proud of my company for is including Plus sizes, in stylish options--Both Wrangler and Lee carry a variety, and I encourage you to check them out. As a company, we are very diverse and seeking ways to become better. Our sustainability efforts are also at the forefront.

I know there are literally hundreds of places to shop, so I am constantly seeking those that make it easy for me to try on, trust in their sizing and sourcing, and agree with what the company stands for as its core values.


Friday 12th of June 2020

I am plus sized AND petite. I was forced into online shopping a long time ago. Once I found companies that had the sizes I need then the challenge was finding styles and colors that I found attractive. Ethically produced? I don't care about that when my selection is limited black or neon colors in my size. I want delicious colors and pretty prints in clothing that fits my age, 64, and size.


Friday 12th of June 2020

Oh wow! Where to start. I am 70 years old and have an active retired resort lifestyle in Florida. I wear a size 8 more or less. Most of my life is spent in tee shirts,shorts, or active wear. But when I want to put something else on, most things are styled for a 20 something. I love color and some pizzaz that also is flattering without appearing to try to be 30 years younger. I rarely wear black any more. Why can’t we have a LBD in turquoise or orange or any smashing color.? Where is Liz Claiborne when we need her. That was my go to brand for so many things. Yes I will pay more for a really good pair of jeans and a distinctive top or a dress. My most recent favorite is Lily Pulitzer. AND could you do a post on swimsuits since we are in high summer here. Pros for shopping at the mall: I like to feel the fabric. If it doesn’t feel right for me I won’t even try it on. Plus you can see the color and style front back and sideways much better than on the internet. It is easier to try different sizes or colors of the same garment.

For the internet, sooo many choices. It takes time to sort and choose. Harder to me to get outside my comfort zone and try something different. I have done some internet shopping and also tried stitchfix and Nordstrom’s trunk service with disappointing results ( I think all their stylists? Are twenty somethings and really never read my preferences) I love your blog and although I don’t relate to everything, I have found so much that is useful and can’t wait to read your next post. Ann😎


Friday 12th of June 2020

Wow, you hit the nail on the head. I live in SoCal and am approaching 60, I am average size for the US-if I didn't have Amazon even before the pandemic... The older I have gotten the more ethically sourced clothes and responsible vendors mean to me (yes I know Amazon). I am on the shorter side, it is nearly impossible to find anything that fits right off the rack and is on the stylish side. I am definitely willing to tailor items if it improves the look, but if I pay a lot and then add tailoring and a pair of shorts that started out at $50 becomes $60, that's where I stop. Makeup has started to change to accommodate the spectrum of consumers, fashion, not so much. It would seem if they want to survive the change would happen rapidly. I was loyal for quite a while to a brand that has been around since the 50's, but the price point for the quality of many of its items became out of reach for the quality of the product. I love perks of being a loyal consumer, but ethics and inclusivity are my number one points.


Friday 12th of June 2020

I am a 40 year old mom of 3 that wears a 2x. I would love to find bootcut jeans and leggings bc I have hips! I have 3 pairs to choose from on and that is all. I need confort, birkenstocks, bermuda shorts, classic fitting tees and shirts and in the winter coats and sweaters. I don't mind spending money on brands, favorite is vineyard vines but most if not all of the plus size clothing they did add is alwasy sold out within hours. Lane Bryant is too trendy and target is going that way too. I have been plus size my whole life and would have loved to see the styles they have now for plus size girls/teens/20s when I was in that age range but it was not. Now I find most plus size is either going towards the larger girl and the older women. Bring back classic clothing. Finding clothes is hard, thanks for making it easier!

Melissa Price

Friday 12th of June 2020

I'd love to hear your take on apps like Poshmark/Mercari/eBay, and the sustainable fashion movement. I'm really moving towards buying brands I know online that are new with tags (NWT) or gently used. Folks can order from home/phones and don't have to go to brick and mortar, its also alot cheaper. Could you do a post on your favorite buying app for instance if applicable.

Megan Kristel

Friday 12th of June 2020

Hey Melissa, So I have sold on Poshmark (and loved it) but never made a purchase, mostly because I'm tall and am not the easiest fi. I think it's a fantastic option if you know the brands and designers that work for you! But the challenge for a lot of people are sizes and returns. For example, when I shop online I always order two sizes because I tend to be in between all the time and then send the one back that won't work.

Robin Richards

Friday 12th of June 2020

But for you, as the consumer, what are your priorities? Finding clothes that fit (I'm 5'9" with 34" inseam); fabric that does not show every bump through it; quality (I'm 58) that stylish and affordable.

Would you spend more for ethically, responsibly sourced brands? Yes. I ordered from Velvety (Australia) during covid-19. Merchandise great but took one month to arrive.

Realistically, would you compromise quality for better pricing? Or would you prefer to spend more for higher quality? There needs to be both options.

How important is size range and inclusivity? As a tall girl, it is very hard to find my size in stores (other than Old Navy for jeans)

What “perks” do you look for from retailers? Lately I'm enjoying the perks of TJ Maxx -- good brands at clearance prices.

Are you okay with longer shipping times, or do you expect Amazon shipping speed across the board? I'm okay with longer shipping times. Whatever happened to delayed gratification???

1 2