Surprise! Bricks and Mortar Retail Will Continue to Dominate E-Commerce for the Foreseeable Future

Perhaps you thought that bricks and mortar retail was on the ropes. That 2020 was a pivotal year for e-commerce with double-digit growth that would stick. According to Forrester Research, not so fast. Forrester is projecting that in 2024, 71% of all retail sales will occur in physical outlets.

An interesting RetailDrive article by Ben Unglesbee, “Forrester: Stores will account for 71% of all U.S. retail sales by 2024,” describes bricks and mortar’s retail in this way:

The report authors noted that “categories that require shopper touch and feel, need in-store advice, or are unplanned small-ticket-item purchases are more likely to be bought in-store.

The question that arises from this report is why e-commerce providers like Amazon and Etsy are expected to more or less plateau after 2020’s pandemic and panic-driven rise in e-commerce sales?

Here is what I think. 2020’s accelerated move to online shopping was driven by fear. Do you recall a year ago when people were wiping down boxes, leaving their shoes outside, and yelling at those who got too close? People were too terrified to leave the house, much less make a trip to the store.

People have a natural affinity for the physical marketplace. They like the social aspect as well as the joy of making their way through aisles of products in search of great deals and the perfect color.

As we move out of the pandemic and social dread subsides, people will return to visiting stores. That does not mean that 2020 will not have long-lasting effects. Consumers will use their smartphones to track down the best deals and learn about products before buying them. Those who shop for convenience, and we all do from time to time, will continue to move the mouse around, make a few clicks and save time.

The ancient love of the marketplace that has morphed over time from the town squares to downtown to the shopping center will ultimately outweigh convenience.

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