Retailers are dealing with digital disruption, a population still feeling fragile in the wake of a devastating recession, and an overbuilt infrastructure of physical stores.
Add to that a growing sense among shoppers that it may be preferable to spend money on experiences, rather than material goods.
That attitude has contributed to the painful downward sales trend at many department stores and apparel chains, leading to shifts in spending toward health, wellness, travel, dining and other nonphysical categories.
A new global survey by GfK quantified this sentiment, asking consumers to weigh the value of experiences vs. possessions. In the US and many other markets, consumers at least paid lip service to the idea that experiences are more important than physical belongings.
It's reasonable to note, of course, that many people might claim to value experiences more than worldly goods, because stating a preference for possessions could make them feel shallow or materialistic.