Is E-Commerce Really Crushing Brick-and-Mortar Sales?

Some big sectors are still resisting.

There is one sector in retail that is seriously booming: E-commerce sales in the third quarter jumped 15.5% from a year ago, to $115 billion seasonally adjusted, a new record, according to the Commerce Department this morning. This includes online sales by brick-and-mortar retailers. Over the same period, total retail sales increased 4.3%. And retail sales without e-commerce – an approximation for brick-and-mortar sales – ticked up only 3.1%, barely staying ahead of 2% inflation and 0.8% population growth.

The chart below shows the e-commerce sales boom on a quarterly basis (seasonally adjusted). Note the beating during the Great Recession. Not even e-commerce is recession proof. It was sharp. People just stopped clicking on the “buy” button. But it was short. By Q3 2009, e-commerce was setting records again:

But how much of a danger is e-commerce to brick-and-mortar retail? Many observers keep pointing out that e-commerce accounts for only a tiny part of total retail sales. And that’s true. While growing rapidly, the numbers are still relatively small. In the third quarter, the e-commerce share of total retail was still just 9.1%, but that’s up from 8.2% a year ago.

The chart below shows brick-and-mortar retail sales (defined as total retail minus e-commerce) and e-commerce sales. Note the long beating that brick-and-mortar retail took during the Great Recession, starting in Q2 2008, from which it didn’t recover until Q2 2011:

So is the “crushing” effect of e-commerce on brick-and-mortar overblown?

Not quite. There are several large brick-and-mortar sectors that are still considered “online-proof” or “e-commerce resistant.” They’re able to resist the encroachment of e-commerce because of the physical nature of their merchandise, state franchise laws that protect dealers, ingrained consumer preferences, and other factors. They are:

  • New- and used-vehicle dealers and auto-parts retailers: 21% of total retail.
  • Grocery and beverage stores: 12.6% of total retail. Despite great efforts by Amazon, Costco, Google, etc., online grocery sales remain minuscule in the US, accounting for only about $20 billion in 2016, or about 1% of sales at grocery and beverage stores. Online grocery sales are going to soar any time now, or whatever, but in the US it just hasn’t happened yet.
  • Gasoline stations: 8% of total retail sales.
  • Restaurants and bars: 12% of total retail sales

This may change in the future, but for now those sectors are holding out against online encroachment. Combined, they account for about 54% of total retail sales.

It’s the remaining sectors that are under attack – and those “under-attack” retailers are typically the stores that populate the malls. Department store sales, which peaked in 2001, have gotten crushed by e-commerce. Despite 16 years of inflation and population growth since then, department-store sales have plunged 35%:

All the retailers combined that are under attack from e-commerce accounted for $565 billion in sales in the third quarter. That was up only 2.7% from a year ago – not quite keeping up with 2% inflation and 0.8% population growth.

But e-commerce sales increased by 15.5% over the same period. That difference in growth has been playing out year after year with brutal consistency. E-commerce sales have now reached 20.4% of those retailers that are not “online proof.” This chart shows the percentage of e-commerce sales compared to “under-attack” brick-and-mortar sales:

So the pressure from e-commerce is focused on less than half of total retail sales. Among the biggest losers are department stores and toy stores (31% of toy sales are already online). The fact that e-commerce still accounts for only 9% of total retail sales papers over the magnitude of the damage at malls where online sales exact their pound of flesh in ever growing measure on a daily basis, year after year.

Retailers that have not figured out how to build a powerful presence online, and have not invested in doing so, are catching the fallout. Their problems balloon if they don’t spend resources on masterful merchandising and perfect service at their brick-and-mortar stores. Every time a customer goes to the store and gets frustrated or disappointed, it’s another convert for e-commerce. Conversely, providing an exceptional experience at the store every time for every customer will stem the decline and perhaps even allow for growth.

But overall, this shift to e-commerce is a structural process. Nothing will stop it. At the same time – despite the 15+% year-over-year increase in e-commerce sales – the process is relatively slow. This isn’t an overnight phenomenon. It took 20 years to get this far, and it will provide for many more years of upheaval in the retail sector.

Finally time to make some easy money by betting on the collapse of certain brick-and-mortar retailers, years after it began? Here’s a grisly thought: As of today, there’s an ETF for that. Oh Lordy. Read…  Wall Street Discovers the Brick-and-Mortar Meltdown




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  46 comments for “Is E-Commerce Really Crushing Brick-and-Mortar Sales?

  1. mvojy
    Nov 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Brick and mortar retailers have become showrooms for online retailers. They should charge admission that is credited to your bill if you buy something while you’re there. People take advantage of the knowledge of sales people like at a camera store and then go home and buy it online for 10% less at an online retailer. They often avoid paying sales tax by purchasing from a third party that sells on Amazon. That camera shop owner made the sale but the online retailer got the money.

    • TJ Martin
      Nov 17, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      All too true . But the thing those showroom browsers buying online don’t realize is that for every dollar spent online versus locally they are increasing the need to raise both property and state income taxes in order to maintain their schools , roads and infrastructure etc along with taking food and money out of their neighbors hands paling many of them out of work and on welfare .

      So no matter how many economic ‘ formulas ‘ they try and apply in order to justify their addiction to convenience .. in the long run they are shooting themselves in the foot

      Do the math … you’ll see

      • Jaco
        Nov 20, 2017 at 12:58 am

        TJ Martin — You’re on the money. These crapy bureaucrats who run the schools and local governments will stop at nothing and use every shady tactic and trick in and out of the book to raise property taxes and save their jobs.

    • JB
      Nov 17, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      Yes i see people in stores scanning product codes with their smart apps that find the cheapest price. If we could only extend this technology to healthcare and dental work we could see some serious deflation. Also home improvement stores seem to be somewhat eCommerce resilient . If you need a plumping part for your home you can’t wait for the delivery truck. If possible ,I opt for the buy online return to the physical store model myself (i.e Walmart , best buy) .

    • Hirsute
      Nov 17, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      The “they should charge” model is at work at Sam’s Club, Costco….

    • GERALD STEHURA
      Nov 20, 2017 at 11:25 am

      My brick and mortar retailer is Costco. My only complaint… too many customers in the store.

  2. Petunia
    Nov 17, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I’m old enough to remember when department stores had professional salespeople, well mannered, knew every piece of merchandise in the store, could cross sell and knew their jobs depended on returning customers. When the stores, especially high end stores, cheap out on the staff they lose their luster. The quality of salespeople now is so low that you might as well order online, it’s less aggravating.

    • DF
      Nov 17, 2017 at 1:21 pm

      Another thing that would help is if stores did a better job keeping things in stock. A major motivation for me in favor of e-commerce is that you don’t waste a bunch of time driving out to a store, only to find that they’re out of what you wanted to buy.

      • michael w Earussi
        Nov 17, 2017 at 2:34 pm

        Good point and one of the main (if not the main) reason I buy online. A regular store just can’t compete in inventory with a online store’s much larger warehouse.

      • Kent
        Nov 17, 2017 at 4:16 pm

        “Another thing that would help is if stores did a better job keeping things in stock.”

        And eventually it becomes self-fulfilling. Go to store, out of stock, buy-online/store loses sale, store doesn’t order product because it doesn’t see demand…
        I think eventually this dynamic will kill brick and mortar.

        • economicminor
          Nov 18, 2017 at 3:37 pm

          I know there is some out of stock issues but the complexity and diversity of products must be a big factor. I went to 3 different home improvement centers to find a thermostat for my water heater. Some had quite a collection but not the one I needed. I found it on line easy enough.

          When you need a battery for your… anything… motorcycle that is more than a few years old or your laptop or tablet. It is hard to find the exact one you need even at the battery stores. Everything keeps changing and it has to be impossible for many brick and mortar places to carry everything. Even auto parts. Many are not held in stock even in those big warehouse auto supply stores. Especially for older models.

          In the old days.. the good ole days that many want to go back to… I went to the local merchant and they would get out their stack of catalogues and we’d find what I wanted and the merchant would order it.. And in a few days to a week or more the part would show up and I’d go down there and pick it up.

          Now, I go online and find it myself and it is delivered to my home. Usually in a few days.

          I seldom buy clothing or shoes on line but there are many things I can spend an entire day trying to purchase local and end up buying on line anyway.

      • john
        Nov 18, 2017 at 10:18 pm

        i went to store to buy new new ipad, they had to order my ipad, case, and screen protector. they got my ipad in 2 days and had to wait 5 days for the case and screen protector to come in. what good is a brick and mortar store if they do not have anything in stock? next time I will just order online. I work in retail and our philosophy is nothing in stockroom. its so embarrassing that i walk a customer to an item only to find out once again the shelf is empty. Overtime customers just give up coming in. Can someone tell me how is this model going to survive in the long term? I will never go back to that electronics store. I wonder how many people fill the same way about where I work.

    • steve
      Nov 17, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      They still do, in some places. John Lewis in the UK has a great reputation for knowledgeable and helpful staff, and as such I’ve used them quite a lot.

      It helps they are a partnership owned by their employees, the % bonus is the same for the ceo as it is for the shop floor worker.

      Why would anyone care for a place they work when they are owned by an asset stripping hedge fund, and run by a faceless ceo who runs them at minimum wage to pay himself millions.

      • Cynic
        Nov 18, 2017 at 7:27 am

        The John Lewis model works quite well – the staff do try harder, and the same I must say for a supermarket that pays decently, like Marks and Spencer.

        The waves of indifference and incompetence that emanate from staff at other shops is very off-putting: I’d much rather go online. But one can understand it.

        I recall first entering the real world of work (in a glamorous business) and thinking: ‘You expect utter loyalty from me, without reciprocating, and will try to screw me at every opportunity? Take a hike!’

    • cdr
      Nov 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      I bought a new 2017 Chevy today. The first price was $1000 higher than the internet price (almost 30% markdown) that brought me in the door. Being astute, prepared, and an SOB, I disputed their price. They negotiated. As I was walking out the door within a couple of minutes of first entering on my way to another dealer, they backed down and matched the internet price.The trade was valued fairly (I researched beforehand) and no markup fees were included. Winning.

      Sales people are good. Buyers must be bad if stunts like that are tried so effortlessly on the part of the sales staff.

      • Paulo
        Nov 17, 2017 at 7:45 pm

        cdr,

        By internet price, what do you mean? Suggestions by other customers? Can you actually buy a Chev online?

        regards

        • cdr
          Nov 17, 2017 at 8:11 pm

          Advertised price for a specific car. List – discount = internet price. Then you go there and buy it. Not all dealers display price in this way. Their entire inventory is on display with the list, discount, and asking price. Rather than no-haggle, it was bait and switch. I got the internet price after a little push back.

    • Pavel
      Nov 18, 2017 at 8:44 am

      I went to a Gap store in NY a year or so ago and the entire group of sales staff was huddled together at the checkout staring at their phones and laughing — and ignoring me completely. I see this sort of behaviour in other shops and even restaurants… very depressing.

      On rare occasions these days there are staff who really know the products they are selling but if I want to buy for example a camera, it is much easier and more useful to read user reviews on a specialist web site.

    • OutLookingIn
      Nov 18, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Why buy retail for anything?

      I never do, except for some specialty grocer items.
      Garage sales, yard sales, estate sales, auctions from A to Z, flea markets, thrift stores, community bazaars, church bake sales, farm markets, or just plain barter.
      The list is endless. You will be surprised what some conversation and a little haggling, with a buck or two can buy.

      • economicminor
        Nov 18, 2017 at 3:54 pm

        I have two issues with your method. Usually I purchase for need.. not for want. I have trouble adding to the land fills when something is able to be repaired or rebuilt. When I am repairing or rebuilding something, I can’t wait to find a bargain at a bazaar or thrift store. I am old and already have one of everything I really want. So mostly I am in the repair and rebuild mode..

        When I go to bazaars and thrift stores I usually find the things I already have or don’t need… You also need a place to put things and having lived in the same place for 40 years, I really have no more room for just novelty. Not that I don’t walk thru some as a pass time. I would take a really nice travel blazer and I look but so far all I see are old suit coats that are not light weight and have to be dry cleaned.

        Personally I wonder why people buy so much stuff and where they put it. I am amazed that there are so many retail stores . . What do people do with all the stuff they buy?

  3. gary
    Nov 17, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    “The fact that e-commerce still accounts for only 9% of total retail sales”

    I don’t understand. According to the chart above, e-commerce sales are almost 3X as big. Am I not reading the chart correctly?

    • Nov 17, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      9% of total retail sales.
      20.4% of “under-attack” retail sales (total retail sales minus e-commerce, autos, gasoline, groceries, restaurants and bars).

  4. RD Blakeslee
    Nov 17, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Rural consumers present a somewhat different purchasing pattern. Local small business retailers still offer the kind of service Petunia only remembers (the owners are our friends and neighbors) and continue to be patronized, while brick-and-mortar window shopping before buying online is not practical – the stores are too far away.

    Moreover, myths to the contrary not withstanding, amazon.com’s purchaser ratings are very useful to the discriminating buyer – “discriminating” including some ability to evaluate the raters and ratings.

  5. Old Engineer
    Nov 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    I am not convinced that e-commerce is the only, or the main, pressure on retailing. The continuous decrease in disposable income in the middle class seems to be as big a threat. Most of the non-grocery area of a Target or Walmart store is taken up with inexpensive clothing, home furnishings, kitchen utensils and other items that I don’t believe people are buying on line. People are just buying less, period. Neither the Target nor the Walmart parking lots are ever as crowded as they used to be. Also, I have learned that anything I can get locally at Lowe’s or Home Depot is cost competitive (or advantageous) with buying on line.
    I started using a VPN about 6 months ago and Amazon doesn’t work with VPN (it takes 3 to 5 minutes to load a page). I have found specialty e-commerce retailers, who have no problem with VPN, whose prices are competitive with or better than those available on Amazon for most items I buy, and so haven’t missed Amazon. Amazon’s prices have risen significantly over the last 2 to 3 years on many items anyway.
    Finally, I believe e-commerce is as stressed as bricks-and-mortar. The volume of email adds continues to increase and there are a constant stream of “one day only” or “one week only” discounts and sales. The UPS man used to make a daily run through my neighborhood, as regular as the mail. Over the last year that has been reduced to an average of 2 or 3 days a week.
    From a heuristic standpoint it is clear to me that there are stresses at work on retailing, whether brick-and-mortar or e-commerce.

    • cdr
      Nov 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      Old Engineer,

      Yes.

      1) VPN performance is situational. Some work better than others and some locations work better than other locations withing the same VPN. Also, some, possibly many, servers block VPN IPs or prioritize them lower.

      2) Commerce in general is slowing down. Disposable and discretionary income is falling. Loan payments impact spending negatively. Low rates, thanks to contemporary monetary theory, depress spending because interest income is low. Williams yesterday confirmed the idiocy of Fed thinking when he stated NIRP and higher inflation targets would come in the next crash. Please note low rates create deflation because they lower interest income which lowers discretionary spending which lowers demand which lowers prices. NIRP is a tax on savings. Pinheads run the Fed.

    • Hiho
      Nov 18, 2017 at 1:35 am

      That’s it.

      What is really crushing sales is the fact that disposable incomes are being eaten away by debt service, rents and healthcare costs.

      E-commerce still grows because it is “stealing” sales from brick-and-mortar, yet at the end of the day this is a zero-sum game.

      On top of that, in my case I have to say that whenever I buy online it is becaue it is cheaper, but NOT more convenient. I’d rather take the car and go buy some stuff myself, being able to see it beforehand. Buying it thought the net is a lottery, and furthermore I have to be at home whenever the delivery decides to come.

      Convenience? My *ss.

      The point being, I would not buy in the net if my disposable income was higher.

      • Frank
        Nov 18, 2017 at 10:35 am

        Amen to those health insurance costs squeezing our ability to spend money on other retail items. My wife and I are 62 and 63 respectively. Our monthly health insurance premiums are rising from $1700 a month to $2250 come January 1.
        We are both very healthy. I see the doctor once a year for my “free” flu shot and a physical.
        Oh and for that monthly premium we each have a $5000 deductible.
        We own a small business and thanks to our good planning we have no personal debt payments to worry about.
        FWIW our health insurance premiums have risen by 19 to 25% every year for the last 5 years.
        But I’m told that inflation is very low by the official statistics.

  6. Nov 17, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Missing from your list is the Home Improvement store. I have bought materials online, due to lack of selection or price at HD they now offer a wider selection of product online with ship to store or ship to home options, usually at a favorable rate. You can return the item to the store if you are dissatisfied. They also have a FULL selection of home cleaning products. If you believe that materials sales will outstrip finished products, and at HD the salesperson does know something about the product. They even help you to your car with your purchase.

  7. B Fast
    Nov 17, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I find your first chart baffling. Brick and mortar sales, according to this graph, is nicely growing, yet large chains are melting down. I truly don’t get it.

    I personally find the demise of brick and mortar to be way overblown. Your list of resistant sales misses one major category: fashion. While some fashion will be taken by online sales, brick and mortar fashion beats online in the following ways:
    – Look and feel. It is hard to impossible to experience this with online sales.
    – Advice. One feature of b&m is that the sales person is a supportive feature.
    – Cooperative experience. Very often people will shop with friends and family to get the opinion of those who interact with them. This is not quite impossible, but very difficult with online sales.

    I have watched the presumed demise of so many technologies in the past. The most obvious is radio. Television was going to make it obsolete. Nope. Even horseshoes remain to be a viable niche market. And vinyl records seem to be making a comeback. Go figure.

    There is far too much opportunity for brick and mortar for me to write them off.

    • Nov 17, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      Go to the part that separates out the “online-proof” brick-and-mortar from the rest of retail. That’s 54% of total retail. They’re not impacted by online sales. The remaining 46% catch all the heat from online sales. That includes department stores (chart #3). Chart #4 shows the growing ratio of e-commerce to the “under attack” part of brick and mortar.

  8. Mutthead
    Nov 17, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    It’s not “online presence” that matters–It’s cost.

  9. Gregg Armstrong
    Nov 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    There is an aspect to the brick & mortar meltdown that is being missed. Brick & mortar retail most affected by e-commerce has huge fixed overhead costs: store leases/mortgages; utilities; etc. To reduce labor costs generally requires layoffs and maybe replacement by less qualified part-time labor. I’d guess that 95% of sales goes to covering fixed costs and labor costs. They probably used to make a profit on that last 5% of sales, which has disappeared into the e-commerce cloud. As can be seen by the examples of Sears and JC Penney they can’t shrink their way to profitability either. They are in a world of hurt that is only going to get worse.

  10. Mike R
    Nov 17, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    In won’t be long before nearly brick and mortars have their own e-commerce platform, in any size and flavor of brick and mortar you choose. Everyone, and I mean everyone has piled onto the Amazon theme, saying its a death star for every competitor and industry. Not only is that not true, but Amazon’s stock value will be wiped in at least HALF, during the next recession, because its P/E is so sky high, and margins so razor thin, that it has zero room for any sort of sales declines.
    The thing about e-commerce, is that it is so very easily replicable, and expands any brick and mortar’s presence from just a local geography to nearly world wide. With a well established local presence, any brick and mortar can ship anywhere like Amazon does, and also run its e-commerce razor thin, but have good margins locally. Amazon only wiped out small brick and mortars bc initially they weren’t prepared for on-line commerce. But now that we have good 10 years, the smallest of businesses have been revamping their models, if they want to, and there are plenty of experts and software designors, that are enabling less and less costly e-commerce mechanisms.
    I like Amazon for certain things, and have been a prime member for a very long time, but when all is said and done, the $ volume of my purchases with them, is at MOST, 3% of what I buy annually. It won’t likely grow either, bc I end up only buying odds and ends there, when I can’t find something locally. The prices aren’t that much better on most items you can buy locally, and most of the quality is not there either. They’ve become largely a vessel for made in China, and 3rd party crap load of thousands of little retailers. Thing is, I can still buy 99% of what I need or want, within a 3 mile radius of my house, and can do so in minutes. The instant ‘gratification’ of the internet can only go so far when it comes to buying stuff, and not being able to see items first hand, is a real detriment, as can be attested by Amazon’s massive return wastage. They won’t reveal it, but I’d bet their returns are 5 times that of local retailers, and way more costly due to subsidized shipping. They also create so much more fuel waste, cardboard and packaging waste than any business model on the planet. Inefficient models like that are ripe to die eventually. Those worshipping Bezo’s now are in the majority, but he’s going to flame out nearly as fast as he came into his riches.

    • How Now
      Nov 17, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      I agree, Mike, with most of your points. Also, I think the social experience of shopping is being underestimated. When movie dvds first appeared – granted, a month or so after initial release – I thought movie theaters would become irrelevant. Not so. In addition to the very minimal “social experience” of movie going, there’s a “status” element, too – being the first on your block to see a new film. With the relatively new convenience of on-line commerce, what will people do with their free time? Hang out with friends. Where??

      Maybe an entirely new venue for interaction will emerge (before virtual reality does us in) and bring a significant social change. But until then, we’ll want the company of friends and strangers. I think this is particularly true of older folks, after the stresses and time-constraints of parenting are in the rear view mirror. I think the brick & mortar front end with an on-line back end will be the happy ending for “under attack” retailers.

    • Jon
      Nov 18, 2017 at 10:27 am

      It’s definitely not going to flame out. Amazon isn’t just about selling physical goods. They correctly diversified into many things and are becoming a one stop shop for all books, goods, movies, tv shows, cloud storage for institutions, etc etc. They’ll always have razor thin margins on the physical products sold just like everyone else including Walmart. They are here to stay along with other smart brick and mortar retailers, and they’ll get you to stay bc you won’t be able to not be a PRIME member. Years down the road it will be much too inconvenient for you not to have PRIME

  11. michael w Earussi
    Nov 17, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    Retail is also fighting back. I’m now seeing local stores matching, or even beating, e-stores on price. As someone once said, it ain’t over till it’s over.

  12. Lee
    Nov 18, 2017 at 2:21 am

    E-commerce/the Internet has killed the physical stamp shop at least in Australia and probably the USA as well. Very few left here.

    Our local stamp club is now down to 4 or 5 people that show up for the meetings – deaths and illness along with people moving away and no new club members.

    If we don’t get some new people the club will have to close down as we’ll run out of money to rent the meeting room and the other club costs……….

  13. mikey
    Nov 18, 2017 at 6:50 am

    I have been using Walmart grocery pickup. Pretty good except for meat. That shifts sales from physical to online even though it is really just paying someone to round up stuff from the physical store. They must lose money on this as no extra charges but if not for this, I would not shop there at all. I figured they expected to make it up on stock price by showing increasing online sales. I think that happened last week.

  14. Cynic
    Nov 18, 2017 at 7:13 am

    The internet has almost killed off the traditional antiquarian book trade, allowing auction houses to achieve their long-term dream of becoming the retailer: so easy now to bid online in the comfort of your study, while dodging one’s dear wife for the morning….

    Prices achieved at auction have gone way up for the best stock, effectively destroying the margins of the dealers. Lower categories, under £300, have died, as they principally sold in shops and at fairs.

    I did think that real book fairs might grow in popularity as bookshops shut (also hit by the rent bubble and high taxes) , as bibliomaniacs love being in a room full of books, but they too are teetering on the edge of failure, and merely becoming venues for the trade to meet, not the public to buy.

    The hassle of travelling to, and parking near, venues is also getting worse and worse in traffic-clogged cities – why not just stay at home and buy online?

  15. Ricardo
    Nov 18, 2017 at 7:40 am

    For those interested here is a link to a very good article about the history of Sears and the make over of its large warehouses.

    https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/11/sears-warehouses-find-new-life-as-post-industrial-playgrounds/545936/.

  16. Trmist
    Nov 18, 2017 at 8:06 am

    On line sale will continue to force many retailers to close up shop. But look down the road a little, when Amazon is the only game in town and growth peters out, they will need to raise prices. Many won’t be able to afford higher prices. That’s when you will see “traditional” open air retail appear, such a flea markets. Shopping won’t be when ever you want it, it will be when merchants choose. Look at the poor neighbourhoods for a taste of what’s to come.

    • Jon
      Nov 18, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Amazon will most definitely have to raise their prices in the future and they will, so enjoy the heyday now while they are flush with money and don’t need to turn a profit.

  17. raxadian
    Nov 18, 2017 at 8:22 am

    The whole point of bars and restaurants is going outside your home, so of course online sales barely affects it. What greatly affects it is saturation, big cities like New York have over 60% more restaurants that they really need. Bars do open and close all the time so is harder to say how saturation affects them.

    • Pavel
      Nov 18, 2017 at 8:58 am

      I’m not sure I entirely agree with “the whole point” part. A lot of people are using Deliveroo and Uber Eats so for them it is the convenience of not cooking and shopping but the pleasure (one assumes) of staying home. Plus one saves a huge amount on alcohol by drinking one’s own wine, beer, etc. Don’t they say restaurants just barely cover the costs from the food bill and the profit is in the booze? With the delivery services the restos have to manage the food, kitchen, pay the chef etc but don’t get the alcohol profit. I’m not sure how sustainable that’s going to be.

      I watched a youtube video of an Uber Eats worker based in Miami I believe. It was a pretty depressing story of how he desperately waited outside restaurants on the strip hoping for a delivery order during the dinner hours. If he was lucky he cleared $15 or so per hour. Better than minimum wage but seemed pretty stressful plus all that driving around sometimes just to deliver a single burger and drink!

  18. Mike Ra
    Nov 18, 2017 at 10:06 am

    On-line sales will slow. First, it’s not everything it’s trumped up to be. Returns? Sales taxes not charged …yet. And cut rate shipping that is not sustainable.

    Am I correct is stating that Amazon has lost money in on-line shopping to date? I believe their net profits are a result of their cloud business. Could be wrong here.

    Biggest thing going on is disposable income. Lower paying jobs in general and inflation is eating away at what disposable income people have. Also there is a demographic piece at play here. Yuppies are shopped out in many ways. Younger generations not forming as many households (could improve) and really young are broke.

  19. alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
    Nov 18, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Another feet-on-the-street data point:

    I ordered a bottle of “Slime” tire sealant on Amazon, and wanted it delivered to the Amazon Locker at the Whole Foods downtown because I was going to pick up a bicycle trailer for $150 from a local bike shop, used. I wanted to pick up the “Slime” in the same trip, because I wanted to treat the tires on it right off, and get to work using it to move stuff to the new building we’re moving into.

    Well, the trailer turned out to be in no way worth $150, so I said I’d pass. Amazon apparently “overbooks” Amazon Lockers so my “Slime” could not be picked up because there wasn’t a place free in the Locker. I canceled the order.

    I got online and learned that for $50 more, I could buy a Burley Flatbed bike trailer, pretty much the Cadillac of cargo trailers, delivered new via Amazon Prime. I should have it on Monday.

    As for Slime, if I get there in time I’ll pick up a bottle at the local farm store (I like the place) or at the local OSH. The trailer has 16″ wheels so they won’t need a lot of it.

    Amazon’s great. The Burley Flatbed is a very rare bike trailer. I’m not going to be able to just waltz into any bike shop within 100 miles and buy one. They have to be ordered, and I’m sure I’d get charged full list. Not a problem before the economic collapse; I had a Burley Nomad I’m sure I overpaid for in 2005 or so and loved it. I also tried a “Bob” and it was no comparison. I could afford to play around with things like this and also had two bikes bought new, riding gear, etc. But post-collapse, one has to spend money wisely.

    I even considered buying a “garden cart” and just tying that onto the back of my bike somehow, since right now all I have to do is trundle back and forth at low speed over about a mile. But the center of gravity of those things is much higher, their weight is high and I know what it’s like to tow 100+ lbs on a bike, and when done with the move I’d not want to keep the thing and I’d lose money when I sold it. The Burley can be hung up when not in use (it weighs less than 20 lbs) and kept ready for those times it’s needed.

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