Changes in On-Line Retail May be Good News for Downtowns

Kevin Drum has this take on how the changing world of e-commerce may be good news for your local downtown:ecommerce

The Wall Street Journal reports that foot traffic in retail outlets plummeted this holiday season:

A long-term change in shopper habits has reduced store traffic—perhaps permanently—and shifted pricing power away from malls and big-box retailers.

….Traffic to U.S. retailers was hurt during the financial crisis and recession, when job losses soared and shoppers kept a tight grip on their dollars. But nearly five years into the recovery, it appears many of those shoppers may never be coming back….Shoppers don’t seem to be using physical stores to browse as much, either. Instead, they seem to be figuring out what they want online then making targeted trips to pick it up from retailers that offer the best price.

This is actually not quite the tale of woe that it sounds like. It’s more interesting than that. In the past, brick-and-mortar outlets complained about shoppers coming to stores to check out the merchandise but then buying online. Now the tables have turned: shoppers are going online to check out prices and products, and then making a quick trip to pick up their goods instead of driving around town to a bunch of stores to do comparison shopping.

The question is whether this behavior translates to more in-store sales for local shops.  Another key trend to watch in 2014!

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