Shoppers Walk Away Leaving Orphan Items Behind

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Published : August 22nd, 2009
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Category : Editorials





In increasing numbers, cash strapped consumers are abandoning items at the checkout counter or dumping items from their virtual shopping baskets online. The former creates orphan items that have to be restocked.

Last second abandonment is a new twist in the "Do I really need that?" shopping psychology that has set in. Now more than ever,
shoppers are thinking twice in the checkout line.


Penny-pinching Americans are getting cold feet at the checkout -- thinking twice about spending and ditching items before they're rung up.

They're leaving sweaters in the dress department, dumping cookies near the grocery cashier and waiting until the last minute to weigh wants versus needs. Online, shoppers are abandoning their virtual carts as they search for better deals.

People "want to be in the act of shopping, but they don't want to be in the act of buying," said Joel Bines, a director at AlixPartners, a turnaround consultant.

Besides abandoning goods while standing in line, they're paying close attention once checkout begins. They ask cashiers to provide a total while they're still scanning items to see where they stand, or to have necessities like health care basics scanned first, said Dan Fishback, chief executive of DemandTec Inc., a retail technology company. When they hit their limit, they forgo what's left in the basket.

Internet research company Forrester Research estimates as much as 59 percent of online purchases are being dumped during checkout. Those rates had ranged from 47 percent to 53 percent in the past six years, according to industry surveys.

The Container Store, which sells storage items, has seen its online abandonment rate rise to 68 percent. The company has launched an e-mail campaign to remind shoppers of their abandoned purchases and a service that lets shoppers pick up online purchases at the store to avoid shipping costs.

Eric Younan, 35, of Farmington Hills, Mich., who said he had never quit during the checkout process, has abandoned online shopping carts four times in recent weeks because he discovered extra charges late in the game.

"Two years ago, a $10 handling charge wouldn't have fazed me, but now I would just drop it," said Younan, a publicist. "Back then, I had more disposable income, and my time was worth money."


The massive 68 percent abandonment rate at the Container Store is quite telling.

Have you looked at some of their stuff? Here's a sample.

click on image for sharper view

Does one really need a Kingsford charcoal caddy dispenser? Heck, I never knew such a thing existed. Who wants that bright orange folding crate for $19.99? I do not want that for free. A modular hauling system on sale for $49? You've got to be kidding me.

Note that the container store not only sells containers but household products and all kinds of stuff that just begs to be contained. Take a look at this $49.00 designer dustpan.

"Designed by noted style-maker Karim Rashid, this broom is as much a work of art as it is a functional cleaning tool. The broom and dustpan feature an integrated, ergonomic design for comfortable use, effective cleaning and simple, compact storage."

A quick look at their prices is all it takes to figure out what's happening. It's a triple whammy:

1) Containers as well as stuff to be contained are cheaper at places like Target (TGT), Walmart (WMT), and Home Depot (HD).

2) Works of art are out. Practicality and frugality are in.

3) Instead of buying more junk and/or containers to store junk in, consumers are deciding to throw stuff away.

Lifestyle Liquidations

For more on throwing stuff away, please see
Lifestyle Liquidation - Estates of the Fabulously Rich and Downsizing of America - Thoughts on a Vanishing Lifestyle.

Lifestyle liquidation has only just begun.













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Mish 13 abonnés
Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management. He writes a global economics blog which has commentary 5-7 times a week. He also writes for the Daily Reckoning, Whiskey & Gunpowder, and has over 80 magazine and book cover credits. Visit
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