Data set to be released Tuesday (Nov. 17) could give merchants, shopping mall owners and economic analysts insight into consumer buying habits that may shift their strategies for the holiday shopping season.
With Black Friday just around the corner — and many retailers gearing up for early “Black Friday” sales — the third quarter online shopping activity data from the U.S. Census Bureau will show the aforementioned three parties just what they should expect as they head into the busy season.
Last quarter, eCommerce shopping rose 14.1 percent from the year prior, the August report from the bureau revealed. That pace has remained relatively steady in the past few years, with a growth rate between 12.6–15.6 percent since the end of 2012, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Interestingly enough, eCommerce shopping had its largest growth spikes between 2002–2007, with rates reaching 20–30 percent a year — at least until the recession hit.
“There’s no question you’re seeing a flattening-out,” William Taubman, COO of Taubman Centers Inc., a mall operator, told WSJ. “It’s gaining share at a smaller rate than it was.”
Eventually, online sales growth is projected to plateau, but rates are projected to slow over the next handful of months/years. In terms of overall sales, eCommerce retail sales have been steadily rising since the mid-2000s but still only makes up 7.2 percent of total retail sales, according to the last quarterly results from the Census Bureau.
That’s because traditional brick-and-mortar retail is still securing most of those sales. But, in some cases, that may be because online can only reach so many items. As Chad Syverson, an economist at the University of Chicago, noted: “There are things that are hard to replicate online,” because “a lot of products are tactile.”
He projects the online retail sales growth to slow, as does Forrester research, which has projected the rate to decline from 12 percent in 2015 to 8 percent in 2019.
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