E-Commerce Does it Again: The Stores that Got Pummeled

Even brick-and-mortar sales at our hero-of-the-day Nordstrom actually fell!

Nordstrom’s shares popped 12% this morning after it reported better-than-expected results. Where did the sales gains come from: e-commerce sales. Sales from Nordstrom.com soared 50% year-over year to $897 million. Including its other e-commerce sites, total online sales jumped 23% to $1.35 billion, or to 34% of its total sales.

During the first day of Nordstrom’s anniversary sale in July, it “achieved record digital demand, surpassing its previous peak by 80 percent,” it announced proudly.

Nordstrom’s total sales in the quarter grew by $263 million from a year earlier, to $4.07 billion.

Of that sales gain, $250 million came from e-commerce and $21 million came from credit card interest revenue (your Nordstrom card is a profit center). Both combined produced revenue growth of $271 million. But total sales only grew by $263 million, meaning that sales at its brick-and-mortar stores fell by $8 million.

Not many retailers give investors this detailed look into their online sales v. brick-and-mortar sales. Most just mention percentages. But all brick-and-mortar retailers that want to stick around have to create a vibrant successful online presence – that’s where the growth is, as sales at their brick-and-mortar stores are heading into hard times.

Walmart has been investing billions of dollars, including for acquisitions, to build its online businesses, in an all-out existential battle with Amazon. It announced yesterday that its online sales jumped 40% in the quarter year-over-year, and that it expects online sales for the entire year to grow 40%.

Best Buy, Macy’s and other brick-and-mortar chains are also succeeding with herculean efforts to grow their online businesses. But those that did not succeed online, such as most recently Toys “R” Us, Bon-Ton Stores, Sears, or J.C. Penney’s are being liquidated or will be liquidated.

People who still say that the threat from e-commerce is “overblown” because it makes up less than 10% of total retail sales refuse to see the structure of the brick-and-mortar retail industry.

There are retail segments that are for now largely “online resistant.” Most prominently, this includes gasoline stations, new- and used-vehicle dealers, and grocery and beverage stores. Online sales have made little progress into this arena for now. Combined, the three sectors make up 52% of brick-and-mortar retail sales.

The other 48% of brick-and-mortar sales, such as department stores, book stores, toy stores, electronics stores, music stores – remember them? – have been under all-out attack from e-commerce, and their brick-and-mortar sales have been decimated. For these brick-and-mortar retailers, it’s a life-and-death struggle: either they make it online or they’ll disappear.

This morning, the Commerce Department released the e-commerce data for the second quarter, and it confirms the biggest fears – as well as the Nordstrom scenario.

E-commerce sales in the first quarter soared 15.2% from a year ago to a new record of $127.3 billion (seasonally adjusted). E-commerce sales are on track to exceed $500 billion in 2018.

E-commerce includes sales by the online operations of brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Nordstrom, Walmart, and Best Buy, along with the sales of online-focused retailers, from Amazon down to the innumerable small operations. Over the past five years, e-commerce sales have nearly doubled.

Total retail sales in Q2 – including e-commerce but excluding sales at restaurants and bars – increased 5.7% year-over-year to $1.33 trillion (seasonally adjusted).

Sales at the “online resistant” bunch – at gas stations, auto dealers, and grocery and beverage stores, which account for 52% of all brick-and-mortar sales – rose 6.2% in Q2 to $621.5 billion.

Sales at the “under-attack” bunch – the remaining brick-and-mortar sectors – rose only 3.3% in Q2, not even keeping up with the combination of  inflation and population growth (CPI rose 2.9%, population rose 0.8%), even as e-commerce sales surged 15.2%. This chart shows how e-commerce is eating into the share of the brick-and-mortar retailers that are under attack:

But even that chart averages out the long-drawn-out meltdown in specific sectors. Some brick-and-mortar sectors have already been largely wiped out, such as music stores and video stores. Others have been decimated by e-commerce, such as book stores (Borders is history, Barnes & Noble is struggling) and toy stores, including Toys “R” Us now being liquidated.

Department store sales peaked in 2001 and have since plunged 36%, despite inflation and population growth. The most iconic names in the sector have been shuttering stores and laying off people. Other department store chains, including Bon-Ton Stores, have been liquidated. Sears is going to get liquidated, it’s just a matter of when. J.C. Penney is looking very dreary.

Sales at electronics and appliance stores, despite a booming business in electronics and appliances, have dropped 9% over the past 10 years to $24.8 billion, as much of it has migrated to online operations.

The chart of e-commerce sales (red line) versus some of the other major categories of stores shows why the threat of e-commerce to brick-and-mortar retailers is not “overblown”:

These under-attack brick-and-mortar retailers that are losing the battle against e-commerce are precisely the stores that populate shopping malls, with department stores – the most beaten-up segment – serving as the anchors. This problem for mall landlords, despite feverish landlord rhetoric to the contrary, is just going to get worse.

Consumers will continue to shift their purchases online. Entire brick-and-mortar sectors will essentially disappear – like music stores and video stores before them. You can buy retro video games and music online so easily now that even stores that sell those items may liquidate their inventory. But it took 20 years for online sales to get this far. And it’s going to take many more years to complete the structural transition. The environment for brick-and-mortar retailers and malls will get relentlessly tougher, where each liquidation creates some fake breathing room for the remaining brick-and-mortar competitors, but only briefly. Then the process continues.

This is so thick it’s hard to believe. It’s far beyond just a Brick & Mortar Meltdown. Read…  Mattress Firm Considers Bankruptcy to Get Out of its Real Estate Scams  
 

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  65 comments for “E-Commerce Does it Again: The Stores that Got Pummeled

  1. L Lavery
    Aug 17, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    I wonder what’ll happen to charity shops? We have a lot, here in the UK. Might they actually flourish? I hope so, as I hate shopping for clothes in a normal shop, but find it okay in a charity shop. Mainly because the stock is always changing (is highly varied) and you don’t have an ‘assistant’ leaping on you as soon as you walk through the door, you can wander in and out as you please.

    • OutLookingIn
      Aug 17, 2018 at 11:19 pm

      Charity shops, or as they are known on this side of the pond, thrift stores, will continue to thrive as the economies stagnate along with wages.

      The mercantile sector is undergoing a quantum shift. Big box Walmart stores are beginning to disappear! They are closing down the smaller outlets that have a weak turnover rate and a reduced number of walk ins. This action decimates smaller towns, since Walmart’s move in and all the Mom & Pop stores close. So, what does the town do when their only big retail tax provider moves on? The town whithers and dies.

      Now multiply this by a factor of a big city. The mercantilists of the future will be a computer program, touch screen, robotic assisted, automated production, delivery, payment integrated system.

      Now. What happens when the antiquated power grid goes down?

      Look for the “Rag & Bone Man” to make a come back.

      • Aug 24, 2018 at 3:20 am

        Rag & Bone are already here, they are called ‘house clearance’ and they should be going online soon too in UK – big opportunity for someone.

  2. Bobber
    Aug 17, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Kohls seems to be defying the trend. You’d think they would be hit hard as a brick and mortar operation.

    • Aug 17, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      They’re in exactly the same boat. Overall sales are up 3.5%, with brick-and-mortar sales down and online sales skyrocketing … they’re spending a fortune on building out their e-commerce infrastructure. They just finished their 5th e-commerce fulfillment center. These are highly automated huge warehouses to serve their online sales exclusively. They know that their future is online or not at all.

      • IronForge
        Aug 18, 2018 at 4:05 pm

        Last time I drove by a Kohl’s, they were offering their services as a Return Merch Center for AMZN.

  3. LouisDeLaSmart
    Aug 17, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    \\\
    The e-commerce sector seems to be expanding into a new market, because the graph clearly shows that although the retail stores are getting a beating, their loss of market share does not in any way justify such an exponential growth. I wounder does this data include also goods exported via amazon and other online reatilers from the US to other markets. And if they are expanding this fast I wounder what is also contracting and where?
    \\\

    • Aug 17, 2018 at 5:57 pm

      This data is only US sales.

      The 5 brick-and-mortar lines in the second chart generated combined sales of $161 billion in Q2 (slightly down from 10 years ago), v. $127 billion for e-commerce, which is 3.5X its sales 10 years ago.

      During those 10 years, population growth, inflation, plus any increase in real consumption, if any, have led to 31% increase in total retail sales. Much of this increase occurred at the “online resistant” segments (gasoline, auto dealers, grocery and beverage stores = 52% of total retail) and e-commerce.

  4. Doug
    Aug 17, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    If I order a pizza online is that an ecommerce sale ?

    • Aug 17, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      If you order from your local pizza restaurant, no. Restaurant sales are not included in this data, neither in total retail, nor in e-commerce. But if you order a frozen pizza from Safeway.com and have them deliver it, it counts as e-commerce.

      • IronForge
        Aug 18, 2018 at 4:14 pm

        Sorry to bother, Mister Richter:

        Q: Will those same Pizza Sales via UberEats and GrubHub (purchase/delivery from local eatery via 3rd Party Online) count under the e-commerce category?

        Thank you

        • Aug 18, 2018 at 8:48 pm

          IronForge,

          I while back, I contacted the folks at the Census Bureau who produce this data how all this is determined (my question had been about Amazon). They sent me some stuff and explained in emails that this goes by activity that the company declares it has at this particular location.

          Every business location in the US has to declare to the IRS and other government entities its activity code (NAICS … https://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/). So whatever that code is for that location, that’s how this activity is classified.

          For example, if the place you order the pizza from is a “full service restaurant” it has a NAICS code of 722511 (just looked it up at the link above). So all sales at this location will be classified as full-service restaurant sales, and not online sales.

          Who delivers their product to your home has no impact here.

          Not long after I had this exchange with the Census, I actually — in my function as CEO of the WOLF STREET media mogul global empire — received one of those surveys. You’re forced to fill it out. So you do. It’s done online and is pretty well structured but can take time. It starts with the NAICS and more detailed business activity description at this location.

          So the principle to remember — even if it’s Amazon which has warehouses, product labs, headquarters locations, sever farms, movie studies, etc. — whatever the declared activity is at the location that gets the survey, that determines how the sale is classified.

        • IronForge
          Aug 18, 2018 at 11:54 pm

          Thank you, Sir!

  5. alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
    Aug 17, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    People are cutting back on buying, as you’d expect with another Depression just around the corner. I’m supposed to wait until Monday, maybe Tuesday, to cash this Friday’s paycheck, and I’ve been cutting my spending way back. I think most people are. I’ve got things listed on Craig’s List and have been getting zero interest in them; this is the worst I’ve seen it, ever.

    • Aug 17, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      People are NOT “cutting back on buying.” Retail sales are up 5.7% in Q2 year-over-year. What you’re saying is that maybe they’re cutting back on buying each other’s used junk though.

      • Anthony
        Aug 18, 2018 at 3:41 am

        Same here in the UK but what many are doing, is buying their food from the cheaper German stores, Lidl and Aldi ( including myself where I now buy 90% of my food and house stuff from them)

        Real inflation in the UK, however, is over 6%, ( not the Govt 2.5%) So people have to spend much more for the same things..

    • Broker Dan
      Aug 17, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      Alex,

      You’ve been calling for the greatest depression ever for a very long time.

      There are tens of millions of people don’t very well in this economy, stop the nonsense

      • Rates
        Aug 17, 2018 at 10:20 pm

        Yep. Alex is obviously not participating in the current strong trend. Or he is waiting to buy a house.

    • Rates
      Aug 18, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Not eCommerce, but another sign Alex is wrong.

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-15/americans-are-spending-like-crazy-at-restaurants-maybe-too-much

      Alex needs to shut up because the data does not match his opinion.

    • rhodium
      Aug 18, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      It’s generally noted that since the lower and middle classes who have a higher propensity to consume spend most of their income, consumption tends to follow income which follows job growth which follows investment. Recessions are caused by a drop in investment, which is the fed’s logic behind lowering interest rates to stimulate investment and thereby the economy. The economy will not crash because suddenly people stop buying pizza etc, and while there have been tendencies towards stagflation it hasn’t been enough to really blight people’s living standards (except maybe in regards to housing, but a lot of people already owned before prices rocketed in which case with wage gains it’s only getting cheaper to pay that mortgage), if anything the last few years are looking much better with greater job availability. What’s going to cause a mess is when something pricks the debt bubble that built up from rates being so low for so long. We have numerous unprofitable zombie companies and many close to it that have gorged on cheap debt. When the credit dries up companies suddenly can’t finance their operations or service their debts, then people in these industries lose their jobs as damage control or the outright implosion of the business occurs. Only then will people cut back on buying simply because the money will not be there.

      • andy
        Aug 19, 2018 at 2:43 am

        “Recessions are caused by a drop in investment”

        Y= C + I + S + (E-I)

        or, Income or GDP equals Consumption + Investment + Savings + (Exports minus imports).

        So a collapse in consumption/retail can also deliver recession.

        Agree that pricking the debt bubble will deliver a recession, for the above reason

    • Ethan in NoVA
      Aug 19, 2018 at 12:47 am

      My Craigslist and eBay junk sales seem to have hit a wall a while ago, but every once in a while I get a buyer. Unfortunately last one said computer didn’t work and now I’m eating some $110 in shipping costs on a $260 sale. It’s pretty random. Some things sell well while others seem to stagnate, and it’s hard to predict. Retro is in and pinball machines and some arcade games, older video game systems and carts and older synthesizers and music equipment is pretty sought after right now. Some vintage computer equipment sells for very high prices as well.

      Note – a lot of craigslist’s market moved to other phone apps and facebook, although eBay still lacks true competition.

    • Juanfo
      Aug 20, 2018 at 11:17 am

      My spending is also way down. A third less $ spent this year than last year. Kid’s ps3 burned out, he’s playing with his old legos now. Quality of life is actually up regardless ;) We’re spending a lot more family time together playing board games, cards and dominoes. Eating out once a month when it used to be every weekend. Denny’s is now so luxurious? Clothes are tatters. Truck’s tank lasts half a month.
      A lot more empty stores at the once thriving “good” mall. All the banks are there so I am forced to go to cash my paycheck. You know they’re desperate when they start playing obnoxiously loud music blaring and scantily clad females dancing around.
      I think QE really destroyed the purchasing power of money. I ask people hey what do you think about the bank bailouts? First they give me a blank stare then most are like oh it’s such a great thing what Obama did that saved the economy. Most people don’t even know what it is? How can they be managing financially if they don’t have the faintest clue one event wiped out half the value of currency? Boomers savings were decimated.

  6. Maximus Minimus
    Aug 17, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    How about online news sites versus printed press? When is WS going to buy the WSJ?

    • Petunia
      Aug 17, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      I just got subscriptions for 2 fashion magazines for 2 years each for $10. There is no way they are making money on those subscriptions, it doesn’t cover the postage. Expanding the circulation to get better advertising rates is the only reason to go this low and the low cost is the only reason I subscribed, I stopped spending money on newsprint and magazines ten years ago.

    • Aug 17, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      Maximus Minimus,

      I’ll announced it on Monday. “Funding secured”

      • NJGeezer
        Aug 17, 2018 at 7:37 pm

        LOLs, Awesome Wolf. Enjoy your weekend.

      • Maximus Minimus
        Aug 17, 2018 at 8:44 pm

        Great news. I was most concerned about funding. But isn’t it market manipulation right there?

      • Rates
        Aug 17, 2018 at 10:21 pm

        #WolfStreetWinning. That just made me laugh out loud. But my TSLA puts are now doing very well. It’s just too obvious. Elon Musk needs to cry two more times and I might just be able to make quite a tidy sum.

  7. Petunia
    Aug 17, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Business is better on the high end right now. The rest of us shop at discounters which is why the new department stores are TJMax and Marshalls. The mall is not much of a draw.

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
      Aug 17, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      The economy’s great for the top 10%, just like it was in the 1930s.

      Those of us in the other 90% are tightening our belts like crazy.

  8. Timothy J McLean
    Aug 17, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Wolf,
    I get why online sales and bricks and mortar sales were separated about 10 years ago, but why do we care today? I may be considered a snob, so I won’t shop at a Wal-mart physical store, however I buy stuff on Jet.com all the time. It seems like revenues paid to tech companies(i.e. TSLA) seem to matter more than manufacturers(i.e. Ford, GM, etc).

    • Aug 17, 2018 at 7:29 pm

      Mall owners care. Overbuilt, over-valued, and over-leveraged commercial real estate cares. Holders of CMBS care. Owners of industrial properties (warehouses) care because they’re riding a boom. Stockholders and bondholders of collapsing and collapsed retailers care. Laid-off employees care. Bankruptcy lawyers care.

      This is a huge structural shift in the economy and in commercial real estate and it’s causing a lot of bloodletting. But it’s not happening all at once, it’s happening slowly enough to where people are denying that it’s happening.

  9. Jarhead John
    Aug 17, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    Bon-Ton recently closed up shop at our mall in the Pittsburgh east suburbs…CBL properties has negotiated for a casino to fill both floors of the empty space…hundreds of slot machines, gaming tables and restaurants…there is much excitement with current mall stores in the prospect of increased foot traffic and sales once this casino becomes a reality.

    • Frederick
      Aug 17, 2018 at 10:41 pm

      Great a place where the tweezers can hang out and lose the money they can’t agford to lose Sounds perfect

      • Frederick
        Aug 17, 2018 at 10:42 pm

        Tweekers

        • Night-Train
          Aug 18, 2018 at 1:16 am

          Tweezers

          That auto-correct leaves you hanging sometimes :)

  10. TropicalSunset
    Aug 17, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    I invest and look at a lot of private equity real estate syndications and funds. There are so many sub sectors of commercial real estate (large malls, big box, triple net, smaller neighborhood retail strip, apts class a, b,c, self storage, mobile home parks, industrial + different subsets of industrial, office, gas stations, etc…)….that have their own little unique economies and metrics. Commercial RE as a whole has had a great almost 10 year run now (especially apartments, industrial, self storage, etc..).

    I know there are areas of retail mall real estate that has had pain, but there are no real signs of distress yet in commercial RE overall. Even folks in retail commercial RE seem fairly sanguine. I’ve been waiting for the move to ecommerce to trickle down to the commercial RE market as a whole and create some issues, but it really hasn’t yet in any way I have seen. I’m wondering if all that empty space coming on the market will cause issues or if it will all just be re-purposed without missing a beat.

    • Landlord
      Aug 18, 2018 at 5:48 am

      Good point tropical sunset.

      My company owns and develops physical retail selectively and only in demographically strong and stable locations and markets. Physical retail is not dead or dying though it’s composition is changing dramatically and with it demand for physical retail space and rents. The article tends to focus on physical retail as it relates to Wall Street (understandably given the focus of this site) and tends to ignore the huge segment of retail tenants who are not publicly traded and physical retail landlords who are similarly not involved in the public markets except perhaps on the securitized loan side. Very few of my tenants are public and very few if any of my mortgages are with conduit lenders.

      Physical retail is selling increasingly fewer hard goods and increasingly more services though there remains a thick floor of demand for walk in buyers of household necessities and of course the High Street fashion and luxury market will always exist even if it’s just marketing for major labels.

      To exclude restaurants from retail stats is an obvious misnomer and there was no mention of other services provided in physical retail space such a health and fitness, hair and grooming, pet services, medical and therapy, financial services, insurance, etc.

      Bottom line is that well located physical retail will always have huge appeal at the right price where store owners can generate a profit. That doesn’t mean you can charge $800 psf in NNN rent on Bleeker Street in the West Village but I suspect there will always be a hair salon, fitness boutique or hip restaurant clamourIng for that space.

      Shopping Malls as a concept are clearly failing in all but the rarest cases but physical shopping is not. A lot of big box centers will be converted from retail warehouses to retail e-commerce distribution centers I suspect, putting a floor on values for physical retail properties.

      Pain for over leveraged landlords, opportunity for well capitalized and aggressive ones.

      • Aug 18, 2018 at 9:25 am

        Landlord,

        I agree with you on services — and a switch to services. Every retailer is trying to do that because these types of services give them an edge over the internet. That ranges from ear-piercing at jewelry stores to expert advice at your local hardware store.

        But there is a definition problem: the way we count “retail” in the US, it does NOT include “services.” Service sales are different and are part of consumer spending. They’re not part of retail sales. So a barber shop is NOT a retailer but a service establishment.

      • Petunia
        Aug 18, 2018 at 12:43 pm

        Landlord,

        The biggest selling point for any shopping area is security. When I shop anywhere, I don’t want looking over my shoulder to take precedence over looking around at the merchandise. I choose service providers based on how secure I feel at their locations as well. Needless to say, I buy any brand I know I already like, online.

        I recently watched some videos of the shopping mall in Dubai, which attracts 80 million visitors a year. I was not surprised that the place is popular. The shoppers look comfortable and happy because they are shopping in what is probably the safest mall on earth. Even I want to go there.

    • Juanfo
      Aug 20, 2018 at 11:32 am

      I provide logistics, adm. and maintenance services to a Commercial RE company. Has almost 80 locations it rents out across the region(emerging market). Everything from 10000 sq. ft. warehouses in high density urban core to 400 sq. ft. desolated strip mall space and everything in between including residential.
      Occupation is nearly 100% but prices per sq. ft. are aprox. 40% lower than last decade. Tenants increasingly transient and unstable.

  11. Buy online
    Aug 17, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Perhaps this trend aligns with millennials lack of interest in driving. The whole shopping experience is lousy. From driving to the mall, finding parking, going from store to store looking for your size/color/etc, and in the end you may wind up empty handed. What a waste of time and resources. Then you get to drive back home amongst idiots texting, Q-tips who should have had their license taken away years ago, and just plain dolts. Why do it?

    • Night-Train
      Aug 18, 2018 at 1:36 am

      Online shopping is convenient and opens access to markets unavailable to many folks who live where many products can’t be found. I am a serious amateur photographer. I live in a town that is a shopping center for more than 100,000 people and has the flagship state university with 30,000 students. There isn’t a real camera store to be found. I have bought out of NYC for years and online has made it much easier.

      And let us not forget those for whom leaving home is a major difficulty due to health conditions or other problems.

      And did l mention that it is convenient?

      • Ethan in NoVA
        Aug 19, 2018 at 12:51 am

        And lots of people can shop while at work, just like reading WolfStreet!

  12. interesting
    Aug 17, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    I dunno who the people who are buying online are but I hate it and I don’t really know anyone who even talks about buying stuff online. The few things I have bought online were not delivered on time and slightly damaged. Not enough to send it back but still not really what I was expecting either.

    And then i’m inundated with non stop ads on every web page I visit trying to sell me WTF I just bought. I like to “shop” online (and then I still get endless ads of what I’ve searched for) to compare pricing and then go buy in person. But as Alex has eluded to I don’t spend money on much. I’m doing quite well right now and RE is so completely and totally out of reach there’s no point in saving for that as it’s rising far faster than I could ever save……moving is the only hope I ever have of ever buy a place to live again.

    So my money goes for food and some nights out and that’s about it.

    • Frederick
      Aug 17, 2018 at 10:45 pm

      Lots of folks like you and Alex in the country but some people just hide their heads in the sand and choose to deny reality

    • nicko
      Aug 18, 2018 at 4:59 am

      I live in a global megacity….. So I regularly order my groceries, booze, pet food, fresh vegetables, baking, meats… ect for delivery (delivery boys on scooters). Basically, I only need to go to an actual mall for entertainment, Cafe, or if there is a large seasonal sale (or waste some time wondering around ikea for a few hours). Malls and cities are changing…but from what I see, the need to go to a big box retailer is virtually eliminated.

    • economicminor
      Aug 18, 2018 at 12:26 pm

      I live in rural America and buy quite a bit on line. I have seldom had a problem. I use Amazon, ebay and others. Use PayPal for many on line purchases..

      It is not only inconvenient to buy thru brick and mortar but many times I can’t find what I want/need in a store. In the old days, many stores would just order it for us and call when the item came in and we’d go down and pick it up. Today no one offers to do that.

      My daughter who lives in a big city buys on line as the traffic and parking is awful. It is just a lot easier to go on line, find what you want and have it delivered.

      Things have changed rapidly in the last 30 years and I believe they will continue to change at an accelerating pace. Why be stuck with only one choice offered in a B/M store when you can have access to a world of variety on line?

  13. Jessy S
    Aug 18, 2018 at 2:44 am

    A couple of things Wolf.

    1. You have to wonder how much of that 25% of total sales Amazon.com owns vs Wal-Mart and the rest. My guess is that at least 50% is Amazon with 30% Wal-Mart and the rest holding the bag.

    2. Let’s add in the free shipping and everybody wonders why online sales are up.

    3. That would be city and state sales taxes. It has been recently reported that sales taxes are down for the North Dakota cities of Bismarck, Fargo, Minot, and Grand Forks for the 2nd year in a row. This is despite there being an Amazon.com fulfillment center in Grand Forks. My guess is that pretty much every city in this nation is suffering from decreased sales taxes.

    4. I actually believe that video stores are going to make a comeback. The reason is because Netflix is on the way down due to their liberal bent. And if you add the unrealized additional profits of adding advertising during Amazon Prime TV shows, people will be flocking back to video stores. As for music stores, they are currently dead and will remain dead because it is easier to download your favorite songs through various channels.

    Where will this lead? I think Amazon will eventually be liquidated world-wide while Wal-Mart will eventually be completely liquidated or broken up.

  14. Alex
    Aug 18, 2018 at 7:08 am

    The 2000’s housing bubble caused by Greenspan lowering rates to historic lows turned houses into a mighty ATM machine. That drove overbuilding of stores supplied with throw away products from China. Its all crashing down now in slow motion.

    • wkevinw
      Aug 18, 2018 at 9:49 am

      Agree; the root cause of what has happened since 2000 is the dot.com bubble that formed at the end of the ’90’s. I have done well with investments since then, but was warning of a problem starting in 1996. It was plain in the numbers.

      I had no idea how it would play out- QE? Who’da thunk?

  15. Augusto
    Aug 18, 2018 at 8:05 am

    I hate mall shopping now. Never really liked it, but now with the stores staffed by millennials who don’t know anything, run and hide when the see a customer coming, or are parked permanently on their phones. Well to say the least not pleasant, worse than on line, where’s it’s impersonal not anti-social. Of course these kids are not trained, because the stores really don’t care. Management is just hanging on as long as they can in these places. Every time I shop in a mall store now, I wonder how long until the final close out sale.

    • Alex
      Aug 18, 2018 at 8:36 am

      I certainly would shop more in stores if the help was better. But I end up wasting time and the stocking system is usually a mess. So it drives me to online.

    • Mike G
      Aug 18, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      The crapification of retail service has been going on for a long time.
      They pay minimum wage, get bare-minimal training and management treat them as disposable. Throw in pushy corporate “upselling” demands and the service experience is usually a minus for me.

  16. Mel
    Aug 18, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Re the surge in e-commerce, I’m seeing huge delays in page service — 10s of seconds sometimes — from sites like doubleclick, adnxs, the google constellation. As though they haven’t tooled up to meet the demand. Or as though my buying history has convinced them that I’m not worth serving pages to.

  17. raxadian
    Aug 18, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Wolf why are shopping malls still being built? Is all a huge scam?

    • Aug 18, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      The US is totally over-malled. But new malls are built because investors want to plow money into something. If they do it right, and put the mall in the right place, it might be successful, but not at the expense of e-commerce. It’s just taking traffic and sales away from other malls and hastens their decline.

      • Mike G
        Aug 18, 2018 at 4:23 pm

        Given the amount of time that goes into planning, raising capital, approvals, construction, etc., a mall being built today was probably proposed to investors five years ago when conditions were more positive.

  18. Dale
    Aug 18, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    According to the Federal Reserve, ecommerce sales are about 29% of total retails sales sans food / beverage. I believe this is consistent with Commerce’s figures.

    Walmart’s overall sales went up 4.5%. Inflation for consumer nondurables sans food went up 6%. Assuming 2/3 of Walmart’s sales are consumer nondurables, and 1/3 are food / beverages, then Walmart actually just broke even with inflation YoY.

    • Jessy S
      Aug 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

      But food/beverages are part of nondurables. This means that Wal-Mart is losing money in everything else. This includes electronics, Toys, Books, Greeting cards, Seasonal, Pets, Auto, Sporting goods, furniture, fabrics, video games, and office equipment such as computers and printers.

  19. IronForge
    Aug 18, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    IMHO, Nordstrom’s focus on Upper Mkt and Immaculate Service (ex-Trophy Lady I Courted Years Ago introduced me to them when I was a Navy Lieutenant) should allow them to offer the “Edge” that Most Brick-Mortar Intensive and E-commerce Only Retailers can not.

  20. bev kennedy
    Aug 19, 2018 at 5:03 am

    Remember when catalog sales expanded retail out to the country and when mail order went through its own decline
    Mail order is back via e commerce

  21. Dan Romig
    Aug 19, 2018 at 7:42 am

    My recent purchase of a few Duluth Trading shirts is probably an example of the retailing trend. I could have driven to a Duluth Trading store about 10 miles away, parked, shopped and driven home. But instead, I ordered online and got the same price for the shirts shipped to my home.

    It took a few days for the shirts to arrive, and I didn’t get to look at other merchandise in their store, but I placed my order in half the time it would have taken to get to their store.

    On the other hand, I recently bought some new new cycling shoe cleats, inner tubes and tires, and I chose to buy them at my local bike shop instead of Amazon or one the the internet bike stores.

  22. Mike Smith
    Aug 19, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Of course, the 800 pound Gorilla in the room is the fact that any and all retail sales growth have been supported by constant increases in “consumer” debt. Which begs the question, how much can we consume before we eventually have to puke and deal with the hangover? All those printed dollars will eventually have to come home to roost, in order to get the disastrous inflation the central bankers so desire.

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