The Shifting Role of E-Commerce in the U.S. Economy

by Crestmark 11. August 2014 09:56

The Internet's impact on the U.S. economy is always growing. The share of online sales is slowly creeping up as the share of brick-and-mortar retailers continues to decline year over year.

E-tailers See Growth

A recent study by the Centre for Retail Research estimates that the online retail share of sales in the U.S. is expected to hit 11.6 percent this year. The figures for nine major countries, including G-8 nations France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, were based on estimated online retail sales of goods. This is good news for U.S. e-tailers, who rely on 55 percent of the country's population to shop online. Online sales that were ordered via mobile devices are estimated to be as much as 13.8 percent for 2013, and are expected to rise to 19.9 percent this year. These figures didn't even include restaurant food, insurance, tickets, and gambling purchases.

                                                     

E-commerce Sales Are Up 

The U.S. Census Bureau has also announced that for the first quarter of 2014, the total retail e-commerce sales are up 2.8 percent over the fourth quarter of 2013. That's in increase of $71.2 billion. The estimate is adjusted for seasonal variation, not price changes. When compared to the first quarter of 2013, the increase is 15 percent. Unadjusted, the year-over-year comparison is an increase of 14.9 percent for e-tailers, and an increase of 2.2 percent for all retail sales.

Retail Storefronts Decline during E-commerce Rise

While e-commerce increases amid promising signs of an economic recovery in the U.S., more retailers are expected to close their brick-and-mortar storefronts. Staples, Inc. has announced that it plans to close 225 office supply stores by the end of next year. RadioShack, known for selling electronic gadgets and trending tech toys, announced in March that as many as 1,100 of its stores worldwide would close. In recent weeks, however, the company has decreased that number, citing disagreements with its lenders over the best way to manage its poor performance. According to reports by USA Today, RadioShack announced a loss of $191 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 over its 5,524 stores and dealer outlets. With 4,300 brick-and-mortar locations in the U.S., the company still plans to close a large number of stores, but no longer one-fifth of its locations.

The shift from retail storefronts to ecommerce business is hardly over, as there’s dust still left to settle in the broader shopping landscape. This transition is likely to bring more innovation to the marketplace, with brick and mortar stores finding new and creative ways to serve their customers, and internet based businesses working to take market share away from those same companies. This type of healthy competition is great for consumers though, and we look forward to seeing how things play out for the rest of 2014!     


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