By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Report finds retail sales growth, despite the apocalyptic predictions of the media.
Despite the gloom and doom spouted by members of the media that portend the death of retail, new data demonstrates that U.S. retail sales grew 4.1 percent over 2016 in Q1 2017, even though Easter – one of the strongest spring retail drivers – fell in Q2. The numbers show that, excluding autos, food service, and fuel, retail sales increased more than $45 Billion in Q1.
While it is true that retail must change, as the nation is seriously over-stored and shopping habits are changing with the emerging technology, it does not signal the end of retail as we know it. In fact, even as retailers are closing stores in record numbers, IHL Services found that 19 retailers are opening some 2,861 stores in the same period. Among those consciously adding locations are Dollar General, Dollar Tree, O’Reilly Auto, Autozone, Ulta, and Tractor Supply.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that total retail sales will grow 3.7-4.2% in 2017, excluding cars, gas stations, and restaurant sales, according to CNBC. Online retail’s growth rate will dwarf that of the industry at large. However, the NRF expects that online retail will grow 8-12 percent, up to three times higher than the growth rate of the wider industry, suggesting that e-commerce sales should fall between $427 billion and $443 billion, based on Census Bureau data. In contrast, brick-and-mortar retail, which still comprises the vast majority of sales, is expected to grow at just 2.8 percent, slower than the average rate of growth for the overall industry.
These projections and the recently released Q1 figures underscore the importance of digital and omnichannel offerings that cater to consumer demands and offer convenience, variety, and affordability.
As Tech Crunch’s John Biggs postulated, retail is not dying; it is reimagining itself. He says, ‘the long tail is eating the old and decrepit body. But the long tail again does something clever. The key, then, is for the startup to fill that niche with cool stuff that people want and that is available down the street and not around the world.”