• Bob Brooks

Are we Witnessing the Death of Traditional Retail?

Well, the Christmas shopping season has officially started. This is an especially challenging buying season due to the effects of the pandemic. The problem of brick and mortar retail declining sales started way before the pandemic hit as the Amazon Effect has taken hold. Has online buying officially taken over? Here are some statistics from the Wall Street Journal.

  • U.S. shoppers went online to purchase holiday gifts and score Black Friday deals over the Thanksgiving weekend rather than enter stores for health reasons, as the coronavirus spurred up the remaking of the retail landscape - WSJ.

  • Roughly half as many people visited stores on Black Friday as they did last year, according to research firms. Online spending jumped 22% from a year ago, measured by Adobe Analytics.

  • Foot traffic to stores fell 48% this year, said RetailNext, which provides cameras, software, and analytics in the U.S.

  • On Black Friday online sales hit $9B, up 22% Y/Y, near the low-end forecast of between 20% and 42%, according to Adobe Analytics.

  • It was the second biggest online-sales day, after Cyber Monday 2019 when sales hit $9.4B.

  • Spending at physical stores fell about 30% on Black Friday, estimates RetailNext. In-store spending fell the most in the Northeast, down 52%, and least in the South, which fell 42%.

So, the media is blaming this on health reasons because of Covid. Could it be that we are witnessing the final blow to traditional retail? I believe that it is a permanent shift versus a temporary covid shift for the following reasons:

The pandemic has sped up the process of change in all aspects of life. I believe that traditional retail can compete to a small degree with the Amazon Effect. However, the effects of covid could be too tough to overcome.

Once a shopper tries online shopping, the ease of the process wins them over permanently, changing shopping habits. The online shopping process is constantly improving making it a superior way to shop. If this transition continues to happen, the retail landscape is going to look dramatically different.