Small Business News

The E-Commerce Impact
Published: Monday, March 11, 2019 8:00 am
By: Shaun Sappenfield

It’s not a new phenomenon, but one that is separating the winners and losers within the retail sector.  Is the internet to blame for this phenomenon or a consumer’s increased need for convenience?  Most people would tend to say that convenience is driving our society’s shift to increase their purchases made online, versus traveling to a traditional “brick-and-mortar” retail outlet.  And yes, price shopping is a key component in one’s decision-making process, even more so when purchasing a large “ticket” item.  Some retailers are jockeying for position to compete long-term in the new environment, and some are just trying to keep their doors open.

On the national level, some traditional “brick-and-mortar” retailers are struggling to fend off the onslaught of the beast, Amazon.  The retail landscape has changed and this is due to a refocus on the consumer’s wants and needs, not what those sitting in lofting boardrooms think consumers want.  Consumers enjoy the ability to compare products and prices between many online providers, something that was tedious and time consuming before consumers began migrating in droves to online shopping.  Looking back a few years, consumers were sending an early message of convenience to retailers as malls began to lend way to retail strip centers (easy in, easy out).  The progression of convenience continues to drive a customer’s shopping habits, as some believe our busy lifestyle plays a key factor as well.

Overall, retail sales continue to increase year-over-year as consumer confidence is high due to plentiful job openings, low unemployment, and nominal inflation. Total retail sales grew by 3.0+/- percent in 2018, and the Wall Street Journal reported a 4.2 percent growth in holiday sales over 2017.  Digital Commerce reported a 17 percent increase in 2018 online sales as compared to 2017, smartphone sales accounted for 31 percent of sales alone. 

Locally, we as consumers are aligned closely with the changing retail shopping trends.  Whether it’s new construction or the retrofitting of existing retail space, retailers are choosing convenience for store access and adjacent parking for their customers. 

Local retailers across the community have been feeling the effects of online shopping, and this trend continues to increase although it’s almost impossible to assign a total dollar figure.  In

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