Teleconferencing workers change Walmart’s sales mix
We’ve all heard of shoppers hoarding toilet paper, cleaning supplies, canned goods, hand sanitizer and the like. Extensive stockpiling, however, is not the only change in consumer shopping behavior that retailers are seeing in their stores and on their websites. Walmart, for one, has noticed that newly at-home customers are buying clothes differently since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S.
The retailer, according to reports in The Washington Post and on Yahoo Finance, has found that sales of men’s shirts and women’s tops have increased as more people work remotely. Pants sales, though, aren’t up. Walmart says the answer can be found in video conferencing. Remote workers want to look good, at least as far as what’s visible.
“People … are concerned, obviously, from the waist up. These behaviors are going to continue to change and evolve as people get accustomed to this new lifestyle,” said Dan Bartlett, Walmart EVP of corporate affairs.
Wendy Liebmann, CEO and chief shopper at WSL Strategic Retail, said the sales of tops had been accelerating before remote work became the norm for many Americans. She attributed this to the selfie trend, wherein pants are frequently left out of photos.
Fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen claims that people not dressing in the same clothes they typically wear to the office makes them feel less productive and contributes to lower self-esteem.
To avoid disapproval, silent or spoken, from superiors and associates, workers on video calls may wear tops suited for business, but keep on their pajamas or sweatpants out of camera’s view. By dressing for success from the middle up, people seek to convey to others that they are working hard. It helps workers find a measure of control in a new routine with no defined end date in sight.
Ms. Liebmann says that the longer people work from home, the less attention they will pay to their wardrobes. One of the reader comments following the Post story said that pants are “now optional.”
- Amid coronavirus, Walmart says it’s seeing increased sales of tops — but not bottoms – Yahoo Finance
- Business on top, pajamas underneath: Walmart is selling work shirts, but not so many pants – The Washington Post
- A Compassionate Guide to Work-From-Home Fashion – Footwear News
- When you work from home, every day is (very) casual Friday – CNN
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What recent changes in consumer shopping behavior do you expect will become habits when the coronavirus pandemic ends? Do you think that how people dress changes their effectiveness and efficiency when working from home?