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Teleshopping offers the possibility of increasing discretionary time by eliminating travel time for traditional shopping trips, and by speeding routine purchases. Intelligent agents, or pieces of software that search computer networks, will reduce our need to comparison shop to obtain the best price. Using intelligent agents to automate routine shopping for groceries and staple goods may give households more time for other activities. (Kare-Silver, 1998)
Increases in leisure activities may have far-reaching social and environmental effects. Previously mentioned reductions in activity space, combined with increases in pedestrian and bicycle travel may make neighbourhood attractions more popular. Family ties may regain importance and discretionary time will be spent at home. Either way, increases in discretionary time will likely boost the economy as spending on leisure activities increases (Markham, 1998). If families and individuals use their new free time to go for drives in the country, we may see a reverse congestion problem, where roads are clear during the week and crowded on the weekends. Overall, the effects of discretionary time changes are very difficult to predict. Such changes may not produce any noticeable changes in our society or environment for a very long time.
A revolution in the shopping environment is about to take place. But it won’t affect all consumers and impact all retailers immediately. And it will not replace the traditional shopping completely, because there are still many traditional social shoppers. Such as women, to go window-shopping is one of their natural instincts. It is impossible for them to do shopping at home always. What they enjoyed most are the social atmospheres of the malls. They like to have a chat with the sales people, they like to try the clothes on and then do some compare. This is what Teleshopping can not satisfy them.
However, the shopping scene is changing, retailers will need to develop. Standing still carries a high risk of being disintermediated, cut out of the supply chain as Teleshopping grows. As they move into the next century retailers will have a range of options. At one extreme they could transfer their business to become a full electronic home-delivery operation gradually moving out of their physical retail estate. And an alternative they could look to revitalise their physical presence and evolve the store proposition to meet some of the changing consumer demands.
1 Anon (1998a) UK retail sales 160 billion pounds sterling by year 2000. Searchbank
2 Gingh G et al The Information Age IM3007 Participants Pack (1999) p9