With a world that has an eye for fashion, there are many things your local retailer doesn’t want you to know. From the global impact of making clothes, to just how much they are affected by employee theft, the retail industry has many hidden secrets. These are 10 things you didn’t know about the retail industry.
For decades the western world has turned a blind eye to the working conditions of the people who make their clothing. Much like the exploitation of women in New England and the south in the twentieth century, clothing manufacturers target women in poor countries to employ their factories. The women take the jobs in hopes of having independence with their new income, but usually the never achieve this. The wages are so low, that women have to work tireless hours, and the conditions are even worse. There are even cases of unreported sexual harassment and intimidation from male superiors. Employers also discriminate against pregnant women by not giving them time off for doctor’s visits, and many women have had miscarriages at work.
It’s not only the working conditions that should be a concern, but the actual global impact of the retail industry is pretty concerning. There are several countries that rely on the clothing industry for the economy and exports. 88% of Haiti’s, 79% of Bangladesh’s, 52% of Cambodia’s and 43% of Sri Lanka’s exports depend to the clothing industry. Not only that, but the amount of land it takes to graze animals, grow cotton, and the transportation is takes to transport clothes is staggering. It takes 1,083 gallons of water to support everything needed to make 1 cotton shirt. The good news is consumers are becoming more aware of their global impact, and are moving towards clothes that are more sustainable.
One issue that seems to have been resolved in the retail industry is the fact that many retailers used to destroy unworn clothes. In 2010 retail stores H&M and Wal-Mart came into hot water for destroying clothes they were unable to sell. They soon cleaned up their act and started donating all unworn clothing to charity. Sadly, this instance isn’t the only story of a company destroying perfectly fine clothing instead of donating them. It is now the majority standard for retailers to donate unworn clothes to charity, or recycle the items.
If the conditions and impact on the globe aren’t enough to surprise you about the retail industry, you may be surprised to learn the truth behind sales, and outlet stores. Many retailers use big sales like black Friday sales to bring in the crowds for their major discounts. With Black Friday being one of the largest shopping events of the year, many people wonder if they are actually saving from these one-day sales. On large sale days, retailers will place a price on items with a “was” price next to it, making it seem as though the customer is getting a good deal. The problem with this is, most of the retailers are using older prices than they should, in order to make it seem like a great discount. Another trick retailers use is making consumers think that the sale is only 1 day. Most of the time, items will still be the same price or lower in the days or weeks after the sale.
Much like the sales, retailers who have outlet stores could be tricking you into thinking you are getting a lot of bang for your buck. Many people think they are getting great discounts by shopping at outlet stores, but that may not be the case. Big labels have figured out a way to make less quality products and sell them to the masses through their outlet stores. 90% of the merchandise you see in the outlets are direct from the manufacturer and aren’t the same quality as the products in the department stores. The purses you find at the Coach outlets are less sturdy, not the same stitching and are harder leather than the ones at department stores. If you want a good deal, wait for the sale at the department store, and steer clear of outlet stores.