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The Death of Brick-and-Mortar Retail: Ecommerce Numbers Continue to Grow

Major changes are taking place in the retail industry – Brick and mortar retail stores are “crumbling” while ecommerce sales are booming for online retailers!

By: Catherine Perry

So far this year we have seen many big retailers close stores and even file for bankruptcy. One might call this the “death of brick-and-mortar retail”. In the July 14, 2017 “RIP Retail,” article on “19 retailers are cited to close hundreds of stores in 2017.” Such stores as JC Penney, Gymboree, Macy’s, Payless, Radio Shack, BeBe, BCBG, Rue 21, American Apparel, Sears and Kmart are hitting tough times and doing everything in their power to stay in business. Some of these retailers have been operating 50+ years. And, one analyst, Burt Flickinger, goes so far as to name this as a “retail ice age.”
So, it seems to be a time of shifting sands in the retail industry. Are we witnessing the beginning stages of the death of brick-and-mortar (BAM) retail?
Periodically, we like to revisit the statistics for the ecommerce industry and see how it is comparing to traditional BAM retail. Last year we published actual growth numbers in the following blog posts:
Let’s see what has happened this year for ecommerce. Has it continued to grow? Is it still outpacing BAM retail?

Latest Statistics

One of the most thorough reports containing quarterly ecommerce sales estimates is created by the U.S. Census Bureau News. The report dated May 16, 2017 contains the numbers for 1st quarter, 2017 and is the latest report available. Based on the information in this report, 1st quarter 2017 saw a 4.7% increase over 4th quarter 2016 in ecommerce sales with a total of $98.06 billion in sales for online retail. That, my friends, is just in one quarter, and a holiday season to boot! And, year over year, from 1st quarter 2016 to 1st quarter 2017, ecommerce gained 14.8% in sales! Compare this with a total retail sales growth of only 5.1% from 1st quarter 2016 to 1st quarter 2017. “E-commerce sales in the first quarter of 2017 accounted for 8.5 percent of total sales.”
We think these numbers are proof that ecommerce continues to grow as a consumer preference over purchasing from BAM retailers.
In the article “Why Consumers Prefer to Shop for Nearly All Products Online” on, the author states “Consumers have spoken, and they say they’re more likely to shop for almost all types of products online instead of in stores.” This assertion is based on Retail Dive’s Consumer Survey of  1,425 consumers regarding the types of product categories they prefer to shop for in stores rather than online; only household essentials like groceries took the lead for BAM.
This echoes the findings in a recent study by Deloitte Consulting that shows “digital devices influencing 56 cents of every dollar spent in physical stores,” meaning that research and comparison shopping are also involved in the shopping experience, not only the actual purchase.

Reasons for Growth

The reasons people are shopping online haven’t changed, they are only gaining momentum. The use of mobile devices, the convenience factor, customer service and social media continue to be primary reasons why people are shopping online. As this article states on, “79% of American consumers say that cost is now a larger reason for shopping online than the convenience factor.” The ability to shop with online coupons and discount codes is a huge benefit for ecommerce purchasers.
But, note that ecommerce consumers say the convenience of using their mobile devices is still a huge reason for shopping online. Being able to shop anytime and anywhere, compare prices, see consumer reviews, return merchandise easily, and avoid crowds are paramount in the increasing numbers for ecommerce. This data from you can see the increase in the use of mobile devices to shop at online stores:

And, let’s not forget that social media continues to be a major influencer in ecommerce. As users of social media grow, so does the power of advertising on that social media. Nielson has “reported that nearly 70% of adults who partake in social media buy products or services digitally.” That is a very big number!
This growth is across all demographics and genders. Yes, the millennials seem to be leading the charge, but even the baby boomers are jumping on the ecommerce bandwagon. We don’t know for sure if we’re seeing the beginning stages of the death of brick-and-mortar retail. But, one thing is certain, ecommerce is growing and there isn’t any slowing in the foreseeable future!

It’s an Exciting Time in Ecommerce

From the statistics and data we’ve discussed with you above you can see it’s an exciting time to be in the ecommerce industry. That’s why we encourage you to find out more about the ecommerce industry. If you’ve ever considered starting your own online business, it’s a great time to explore your options. At Pure-Ecommerce we offer our clients two ways to get started in the ecommerce industry through our ready-made internet business or by going the custom website design route. Want to learn more about our company and what we have to offer you, submit your inquiry today by going here – We’ll send you our complete information package to help you get started!

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