Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

June 16, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

E-COMMERCE....Will online sales ever reach the 10-15% of total retail sales that Jeff Bezos has predicted? Maybe, but apparently it's going to take a while:

Since the inception of the Web, online commerce has enjoyed hypergrowth, with annual sales increasing more than 25 percent over all, and far more rapidly in many categories. But in the last year, growth has slowed sharply in major sectors like books, tickets and office supplies.

Growth in online sales has also dropped dramatically in diverse categories like health and beauty products, computer peripherals and pet supplies. Analysts say it is a turning point and growth will continue to slow through the decade.

....Sales on the Internet are expected to reach $116 billion this year, or 5.2 percent of all retail sales, making it harder to maintain the same high growth rates....Analysts project that by 2011, online sales will account for nearly 7 percent of overall retail sales.

On the other hand, after only a decade online sales already outpace mail order. That's not bad, unless you were one of the people who lost your life savings betting on e-grocery deliveries in the 90s.

How much do you spend online? More or less than 5.2% of your total retail purchases? I'm pretty sure it's less for me, which might be because (a) I'm old and stodgy, (b) I don't buy very much stuff in the first place, (c) I'm too impatient to wait for deliveries, (d) I like to see things before I buy them, or (e) I live in an urban area and can buy practically anything at a competitive price with no more than a ten minute drive. Or maybe all of the above. Then again, maybe if I thought harder about it I'd realize that all those airline tickets, hotel bookings, and sewing supplies add up to more than I think.

Kevin Drum 2:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (51)

Bookmark and Share

Something to add that makes online purchasing less desirable is a signature requirement on package delivery. Most of my early online purchases were computer parts from the likes of newegg. They have changed their policy to having UPS require a signature (even if you may have a signature on file with them). What is the point of the "convenience" of online purchasing if you have to be at home when they deliver or have to go pick it up from the UPS offices?

Another thing that makes me hesitant about some types of online purchasing is the prevalence of "restocking fees." If the product isnt something you like you have to foot the shipping back to the retailer and then are hit with a percentage stocking fee. I agree with you on some of your other points though.

Posted by: zAmboni on June 16, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Our largest retail purchase activity is probably the grocery store, and I doubt we'll want to do that online as you can't pick the produce or rely on visual cues to remind you of the little extras you wouldn't think of if you were just making a list cold.

OTOH certain stuff (music, DVD's, or oddball stuff like a metronome, camera battery or three-way compact fluorescent) is a natural for ordering. Bottom line is some categories are going to be more e-viable than others.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 16, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I buy everything I can online except groceries. I do order some food items online that I can't get in stores here like crunchy almond butter and a few other things. I'm 62 and love not having to go to stores. We did 99% of our Christmas shopping last year online.

Posted by: Ekim on June 16, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Buying groceries online is pretty popular here in England, and I find it very useful. It also saves petrol in the long run for everyone to order online.

Posted by: KathyF on June 16, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and I should add, it's much easier to remember the things you need when you're at home near your kitchen, with the "aisles" of the grocery store on your screen, and you can always add more items later, up to the morning of delivery.

So forgetting is less of a problem than shopping in person.

Posted by: KathyF on June 16, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Airline tickets only for me.

I'm very cheap, don't like using a credit card, and everything I need is a short drive away.

Posted by: jharp on June 16, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

I find there are far fewer discounts online nowadays--maybe because many places think they don't need to anymore?

Clothing, groceries, large heavy items (like appliances or furniture or equipment or bulk bags of stuff, etc) are all best bought offline, i think. But then i'm urban too.

Postage and delivery costs keep going up as well.

Posted by: amberglow on June 16, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't been to a mall since I made a last minute Christmas run last year. I buy just about everything but groceries on-line.

On the other hand, it kind of makes me sad when I travel. Why drag heavy stuff home with you when you can order it and have it delivered without ever leaving the comfort of your desk chair. I'm listening to a Francis Cabrel album right now. I used to have to enjoy cruising the Frog music stores, but now I can buy the latest with just my flying fingers.

Posted by: J Bean on June 16, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I have to echo zamboni's hatred on the "required signature" crap.

My purchases vary, but I get a lot of online stuff to avoid the hassle of shopping. Clothing like shirts in somewhat standard sizes,yes online, shoes, pants etc where fitting can be an issue, not too likely.

Books and Music mostly come online. Hardware and the like is a mix, depending on urgency (local) versus hard to find (online).

I actually did have a fair amount of food shipped to me for the better part of a year, but it was pricey and I tired of it.

One category that for me was new this year was substantial purchases done on my behalf by a remodeling contractor. On a bath remodel, thousands or dollars of material was ordered online, skirting hefty local sales taxes. There was also the availability issue. Lots of vendors playing the "just in time" game maintain miserable inventories.

I am not big on buying things like TVs and really big items online due to the nightmare logistics involved in returns if it goes bad.

Posted by: RickG on June 16, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Like Ekim, I buy almost everything--clothes, books, electronics, household items, personal products, office supplies--except groceries online. I'd buy groceries online too if there were a good site that served my area. As it is, I buy many specialty items (including health food) online. Delivery takes only a few days in most instances, and UPS rarely requires a signature (I work at home, so that wouldn't be a big problem anyway).

I grew up in New York City and never learned to drive. If it weren't for the Web, I'd never have been able to move away a few years ago (to the Jersey shore).

The big advantages of online shopping are the ability to do research to find good prices and often user reviews, as well as the comprehensive selection. Even if I could drive and had a car, I'd still probably do most of my shopping online.

Posted by: Swift Loris on June 16, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I have always thought on-line sales were the same as mail order. I prefer to bring my purchases home when I make a transaction.

Posted by: Brojo on June 16, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Er, I try to use cash for everything, as long as cash is still legal, of course. So my online purchases tend to be pretty low.

Posted by: lambert strether on June 16, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

If I'm making a big purchase, I always price things on the internet first if possible. And living in a ruralish area, I buy a lot of stuff online. My local bookstores rarely have what I want and if they do it's probably a little more expensive than what I'd buy and ship online, I usually leave town to buy clothing, and I even have relied on drugstore.com.

Posted by: Sara on June 16, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the heady days of "the Internet changes everything"?

Somehow, 5.2% seems a trifle shy of everything. Not that that would shut up the legendary blowhardiness of Bezos.

Posted by: frankly0 on June 16, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Urban area? Really? Orange County?

Posted by: Audio on June 16, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Er, I try to use cash for everything, as long as cash is still legal, of course. So my online purchases tend to be pretty low.
Posted by: lambert strether on June 16, 2007 at 3:37 PM

I used to work with a woman whose husband investigated identity theft for one of the metro area police departments. She got totally freaked out by my online shopping habits and made me listen to what he had to say. On his advice, I spent ten bucks for the setup fee and bought a Western Union MasterCard debit card that is not tied to any bank account, can be reloaded, and only has a $4.95 per month fee.

I use that for online purchases. Same effect as paying cash, and that method protects my identity and therefore my credit, and still affords me the convenience of shopping online.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 16, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the tip Blue Girl. The ID theft thing has been what has kept me away from online purchasing of any kind. I don't even pay bills online, I use snail mail. As far as Kevin's reasons for little online buying I could agree with every one of them. The main one is impatience. I don't even like ordering a CD at B&N and waiting for it-when I want to buy something I want it NOW.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 16, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Somehow, 5.2% seems a trifle shy of everything. Not that that would shut up the legendary blowhardiness of Bezos.

Maybe you don't care much about books, but for me it's a pretty damn significant improvement in my life that I can learn of a book and be pretty confident that I can buy it, even though it isn't and never was a best seller (eg An Intoduction to Stochastic Processes in Physics_) .
It's less of an improvement, but still nice, that I can often buy such a book second hand for half to a third of the cost new.

Ditto for CDs or buying music directly (something I'll do a whole lot more of once other labels follow EMI in dropping DRM, and once EMI itself gets its fscking act together and puts its entire catalog online at iTMS).

It's not quite traditional online commerce, but if you met your SO through a (pay-for) dating service like Match.com and were still together after five years, you'd think that was a significant improvement in your life.

Maybe you are bitter because you were silly enough to buy into the hype of 1999? Those of us more level-headed saw that this was a change, like any other:
Electricity was nice but it didn't "change everything" --- you still have to eat food and poop and occasionally die from disease.
Cars are nice, but they don't change the fact that sometimes the girl you lust after has no interest in you.
Telecomms are nice, but they don't change the fact that some politicians are evil, and most voters are morons.

Nothing changes "everything". Grow up, damnit.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on June 16, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I find that I mostly use the internet for oddball items. Used books, for example, that would otherwise be very hard to locate. Or the 8-inch Pyrex pie pan that I wanted to buy last year.

The main exception is travel. I don't think I've visited a travel agent in a decade.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on June 16, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Even though I am an unrepentant liberal, I like on-line shopping, plus it may help reduce the overall use of fossil fuel. If I don't drive to the local mall to shop, but instead order my clothes off www.llbean.com, I save gas and get quality stuff. If everyone did it, who knows how much gas we could save?

Plus, identity theft is not an issue, if you are smart and don't enter your SSN or bank account number on any web page where the URL doesn't start with a https prefix and doesn't show a lock in the bottom right-hand corner of your browser window.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 16, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Just wait until the oil runs out. Then you'll see online commerce jump as a percentage of overall commerce. 8-)

Posted by: Fred on June 16, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of discretionary purchases made online because we're limited out here.

But, actually window-shopping online is still a real drag. For instance, I was recently looking for a small rug.... urgh. One advantage to this type of researching is that by the time I find what I might want I'm so sick of the whole process I don't buy anything at all.

So -- shopping online saves you money!

Always go with local travel agent. It's more pleasant and I've realized that an agent can actually get you the best deal.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on June 16, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK


Gas prices were the first thing I wondered about.

I'm guessing a lot of people see shopping as a leisure activity, not as a means to consumption per se. With increased gas costs I suspect that people will replace shopping with other forms of leisure and switch to the internet for consumption.

The nice thing is that, as opposed to much of the rest of our infrastructure, the Internet will scale easily and accommodate these kinds of lifestyle changes nicely (if they occur).

Posted by: Saam Barrager on June 16, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe you don't care much about books, but for me it's a pretty damn significant improvement in my life that I can learn of a book and be pretty confident that I can buy it, even though it isn't and never was a best seller

Yeah, arcane books are a pretty good thing to buy over the web, so there's that.

There's this concept that the real value of web commerce that it enables the "long tail". That is, if you look at the distribution of things people buy, there are a few big "hits" in various categories that people buy in great numbers, but then a long tail in the distribution representing those items that occupy smaller niches. The web supports the long tail by allowing people to buy those uncommon things. It was once argued that if you look at the area under the entire curve, a great proportion will be in the long tail. That argument has, however, mostly been debunked: it still appears to be the hits that greatly dominate the area, and those can be had at most retail stores.

My thinking is that web commerce really comes to play in an important way only in that long tail, but that that isn't exactly a big thing in the larger scheme of things. Of course, virtually everyone has some rare item that they'd really like to have, and the web does a good job delivering it. But in absolute quantity web commerce is never going to be that big, if its most critical role is in a long but exceedingly narrow tail.

Even in some of the cases where fairly mainstream items are often purchased, such as airline tickets, what's really changed anyway? Arranging such things online may make things more convenient, but how much has been saved economically? The small extra cost of an agent recording your order?

Suffice it to say, to use your examples, both electricity and cars DID, in contrast, vastly make over our lives in uncountable ways. Compared to them, the web is small potatoes.

Nothing changes "everything". Grow up, damnit.

Actually, that was my point.

Posted by: frankly0 on June 16, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'd love to buy groceries online, but the only nearby grocery store that delivers charges $15 a crack.

It's as if they don't want to deliver.

Posted by: cld on June 16, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

I try to shop at the small local stores in my neighborhood. I'm a small business owner, and get a bit peeved when people come into my yarn store to sit and knit, and then start raving about the great deal they got on their yarn on-line. I just want to ask them if the web has a nice cozy place for them to meet with other knitters and get any help they might need with their project. On the other hand- I looked everywhere for a clothesline and could only find one on the web.

Posted by: KyCole on June 16, 2007 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Just wait until the oil runs out. Then you'll see online commerce jump as a percentage of overall commerce.

Ugly question: Will Bezos still offer free delivery on my >$25 order after the oil runs out?

The whole "drive things to my house" (which the private express companies don't really want to do anyway) portion of the equation will change drastically.

Posted by: ThresherK on June 16, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

lowes: 20 minute drive; same tools from amazon, no drive, lower price, no sales tax, no shipping.

books: same thing.

sales tax here is around 8%, do the math.

for all those ID theft people, do you pay cash everywhere else? most people I know who fear the net don't hesitate to give their card to someone in a restaurant who then takes it somewhere out of sight to do whatever they want with it, then returns it 10 minutes later. at least big retailers like amazon have a strong incentive to keep credit card data safe. last time I checked wasn't it a big bank (citigroup, 3.9 million IDs) that had the biggest theft of personal information? paying $5/mo to mitigate a risk that approaches zero doesn't interest me. worst case I'll use paypal so my card is only exposed in one place.

I sat on a grand jury that heard a lot of ID theft cases. guess what the MO was mostly? paper theft from mailboxes. none were internet related.

if you really want to see the rate of electronic ID theft go down, pressure your state legislature to 1) require disclosure of thefts, 2) require the guilty company to issue new credit cards with new account numbers when it happens and 3) make it harder to use the stolen information, i.e. don't just issue a credit card to someone just because they give you a name and address. real security doesn't happen if the card company can get away with not reporting it and only incurring the replacement costs when someone complains and it won't happen as long as the information is valuable and easy to exchange for cash.

while you are at it pressure your congressional delegation for federal floor legislation, but don't allow federal rules to undercut state rules if the state rules are stronger.

Posted by: supersaurus on June 16, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

pardon the double post.

newegg: I received my most recent purchase from them around a week ago. the UPS guy left it on the porch, same as all the purchases from them that came before.

this is standard practice out here in the sticks, all carriers except USPS just leave it on the porch or inside the door (if they have a bisquit for the dog).

Posted by: supersaurus on June 16, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the drop in on-line sales is related to the slowing economy.

Posted by: Katherine on June 16, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

The environmental benefits of online shopping are pretty unclear to me now, not just in the future when "the oil runs out." How can it be more efficient for someone to deliver to my house rather than for me to go to the store? (Especially if I could choose mass transit, as I do.) But I don't have any data on this--anyone??

Also, these year-over-year numbers for online sales do not compare sales growth to brick-and-mortar retail in the same segments. Book sales industrywide were flat or negative through at least March, and on June 1 Bloomberg reported that sales for 2007 are forecast to be up 4%--"buoyed: by the last Harry Potter book. So 11% sales growth online, even if it is slower than in the past, still means online outlets are drawing customers from physical buying to digital buying in the book sector.

Posted by: r. on June 16, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Although I like buying stuff, I hate, hate, hate shopping, so I buy as many things as possible online--books, music, clothes, some electronics, software. (Mostly I wear simple clothes from Land's End.) I actually have one of those Amazon accounts where you pay $100 and then all shipping (I think it's two-day shipping) is free.

Also have groceries delivered, as the delivery fee is low and because the parking at my apartment complex is far enough from my door that schlepping them into my apartment is a drag. Produce is generally fine, although variety is somewhat limited. Can pick up special items in the store.

I pay bills online. Buy airline tickets, of course, and also prescription meds that I take regularly (i.e., not something for a short-term complaint). Also shopped for a car online.

At Christmas, I generally visit my family 1500 miles away, and it's great to be able to order stuff and have it there when I get there. If I order early enough, can get lots from Amazon w/o paying additional shipping, and other shipping rates are, at least, reasonable.

I agree, though, that shopping for something that is less standardized--for example, household items such as the rug mentioned above, where just the right color, texture, and size is needed--can be a pain and that returning things that don't work out is an even bigger pain.

Finally, there's Netflix for movies.

Perhaps I'm just lazy, but I find all this to be a great convenience.

Posted by: THS on June 16, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

E-COMMERCE....Will online sales ever reach the 10-15% of total retail sales that Jeff Bezos has predicted?

Maybe. While 10-15% is unlikely in the next 5 years, it's certainly possible within the next 10 years. That has less to do with what of today's goods and services can be bought and delivered electronically, and more to do with a shift in the relative value of what can be delivered and will be bought, as a percentage of total spending, over the next 10 years.

For example, while they may not fall into the classic definition of "e-commerce", people spend a larger share of income on electronic delivery of goods and services, such as cable TV and cell phones, than they did 30 years ago. I was astounded to find that many people spend $150-$300/mo in total for those services and consider it a reasonable percentage of their total expenditures... that would have been unthinkable 30 years ago.

The counterpoint is that people will pay a higher premium for a more personal or "live" experience, that anything which can be delivered electronically will be discounted, and thus the value of goods and services delivered electronically will plateau as a percentage of total spending. The most prominent example of that being the inordinate rise in the price of tickets to live sporting and concert events vs. the price of watching it on TV or buying a recording.

In short, it's too early to tell. As with any new technology, we're still doing things the old way a bit more efficiently using a different medium. (E.g., TV was little more than radio with pictures until people such as Ernie Kovacs figured it out.) Give it another 5 years, and we may see some real shifts; the leading indicator is not what you are doing, but what your kids are doing.

Posted by: has407 on June 16, 2007 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

well as far as hitting 10% of retail sales goes, here in the UK we passed that particular hurdle last year, and there's talk 15% could be passed by next year.

Though the UK does seem to be outlier in terms of online sales. Half of online sales in the EU are in the UK.

I wonder it's so much more popular in the UK than elsewhere(higher % of city dwellers who don't drive? longer working hours?)

Posted by: kb on June 16, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK
The environmental benefits of online shopping are pretty unclear to me now, not just in the future when "the oil runs out." How can it be more efficient for someone to deliver to my house rather than for me to go to the store?

If the delivery on the online ordering is just someone hopping into a car, picking an item off the shelf at the store, and driving to your house, and then driving back to the store, its clearly not an advantage.

However, if the goods are delivered from a regional warehouse by a parcel system, they'll be fairly efficiently loaded in trucks, etc., to get from the warehouse to your local distribution center, and then delivered in a truck delivering as many other packages as the parcel service can efficiently arrange (simply to reduce costs!) to your door. This ought to, usually, be more efficient than having the products fairly efficiently delivered to the local store, and then delivered by comparatively inefficient means from their to the final purchasers'

Posted by: cmdicely on June 16, 2007 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Half of online sales in the EU are in the UK.

Maximizing your time at the pub.

Posted by: cld on June 16, 2007 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

I for one purchase well over 98% of everything via the Internet. This includes groceries, Prescriptions, clothes, CD's,software, computers, movies, all household goods like linens, drapes, lightbulbs, lighting fixtures, faucets, lumber,simming pool supplies,paint, gifts. In short I haven't been in a store or a bank in a couple years. All my banking, investments accounts are online. UPS and FedEx know my house well. I simply cannot imagine ever going back to bricks and mortar.

Posted by: jdledell on June 16, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

I just bought a car I found via Autotrader. I spent $8k and that will be a substantial portion of our discretionary expenditures this year, (ie. non utilities, mortgage, insurance.) We closed the deal face-to-face, but I still consider it an internet-driven transaction. Furthermore, I research almost everything via the Internet, even rather routine purchases, but certainly the bigger ones. I wouldn't buy anything from Best Buy if they didn't offer an Internet front. It's way more than the small $ figure you mentioned. Soon, nothing will have a market if it isn't sold on the web.

Posted by: denniS on June 16, 2007 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

What I buy in stores is mostly limited to discrete categories such as groceries, hardware, and clothing. Although I've made a number of specialized hardware purchases online lately for stuff that I can't get at Ace or Home Dopey.

I honestly can't remember the last time I made a plane or hotel reservation offline. Books? Online. Music? Online. Christmas shopping? Online.

I'd buy groceries online too if I could. But around here, nobody but Giant delivers, and I'm just a little too far from their nearest stores to fall within their delivery areas. Sigh.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist (formerly RT) on June 16, 2007 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Hate to point out the obvious here, but your reason "b." for why you buy less than 5.2% of your total purchases online cannot be because you "don't buy very much stuff in the first place" - dude, the percentage is irrespective of any particular level of retail purchases.

I'm sure you took a math class or two along the way, yes?

Posted by: rc on June 16, 2007 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

I order lots of stuff online. Plane tickets for business travel dominates the dollar amount. I prefer to shop local stores where feasible, but buying oddball stuff like technical books makes more sense online.

Posted by: troglodyte on June 16, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Even less online than three years ago. In fact, no online purchase in the past two years. No obvious price disadvantage where I live and I way prefer bricks and mortars - though I'm in a city. Was the alternative the insipid hell of the shopping mall, I could well understand the attraction of online purchases. Reserving a hotel by phone takes 10 seconds. Wending your way through a badly constructed site can take annoying minutes. And ever try booking an American hotel with a non-US based credit card and address?

Posted by: kaorin on June 16, 2007 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an immediate gratification kind of guy. When I go shopping for something I want to take it home right then and there.

Posted by: beb on June 16, 2007 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

#1) The governors seem to have the ear of Congressional Democrats about the possibility of an internet tax. This is liable to be a tax on middle and professional class people. I think it's a bad idea, and may depress online sales of new merchandise which may depress job growth among online retailers. It may also stunt the creation of new internet retailers and adversely impact small retailers who have come to depend on it; the appeal of online purchases is that the values help to offset the waiting. If the governors need new sources of revenue they ought to cut the pay for themselves, state legislators, and cut jobs of state bureaucrats. Raise taxes on Jeff Bezos not customers of Amazon.com.

#2) Much about the world sucks today but before ecommerce could you really buy Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee in green bean form without being a coffee wholesaler?

#3) Bookfinder is good.

Posted by: Linus on June 16, 2007 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

sewing supplies?

Posted by: craigie on June 16, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Mostly books and records that I can't find around here. (I know all the reasons for hating the big-box bookstores but dammit out here in suburbia they're like outposts of civilization, and one of our favorite outings and we're fortunate to have both chains represented within a fifteen-minute dirve.)

When I was researching a novel, Alibris was new and a godsend. I searched on a keyword and found lots of titles I'd never heard of, many of them published in foreign countries, and many of them quite helpful.

I think it's accurate to think of online ordering as equivalent to mail order, but without those pesky catalogs.

Posted by: thersites on June 16, 2007 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

I am a single mom with a 7 year old son who thinks that the mall=hell. So I buy virtually everything on line and make 1 trip a week to a local grocery store because I like to see what I will be feeding us. Honestly, on-line shopping makes my life so much easier. I'd be lost without it.

Posted by: Stacy on June 17, 2007 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

probably 75-90% of gifts bought online; 30% music/videos; 20% of books (down from probably twice that; just like going to bookstores better); 90% of computer accessories, gadgets, crap; all software for handheld. bought a kitchen stove online several years ago but all other appliances are in-store purchases.

Posted by: secularhuman on June 17, 2007 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

IMHO the question is not if there will be room in the next years for a 15% purchasing online, but if there will be roomm for a 15% of brick and mortar purchasing; sure time matters, but it's just a question of time; within the end of this century there's no doubt that more than 80% of good will be bought online and that going to a store will be the same now like going to the cinema to see a movie (most of us do it, but just in a old fashioned matter)or to a opera theatre to hear a famous soprano; about the next decades, for sure we must consider that there is also a "social" issue; nobody can imagine that we would close 90% of the groceries or brick and mortars just because they are obsolete; they are already obsolete, but let us the owners retire and retire the owners' sons and the nephew probably will continue the biz just online; that's the future. Last but not least, and aggreining with a comment above, the offline shopping (also get an hair cut is shopping) will be a "social activity" more than a necessity; now it's more a necessity, if we want to affirm that to listen music or reading books is something like a "necessity" in its purest meaning.

Posted by: guiguox on June 17, 2007 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK

I live in the sticks, and I've got munchkins. The ONLY things I do NOT buy online are grocercies, shoes and cleaning products. I get free shipping on just about everything in addition to discounts I receive from online stores I frequently visit.

The Internet has been a true blessing for me. Instead of driving long distances, dealing with parking and crowds, and risking not finding what I'm looking for, I just point and click.

But, if I lived in a city, I wouldn't use the Internet as I currently do.

Posted by: RainyDay on June 17, 2007 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

"The governors seem to have the ear of Congressional Democrats about the possibility of an internet tax. This is liable to be a tax on middle and professional class people. I think it's a bad idea, and may depress online sales of new merchandise which may depress job growth among online retailers. It may also stunt the creation of new internet retailers and adversely impact small retailers who have come to depend on it; the appeal of online purchases is that the values help to offset the waiting."

You mean I might not get away with not paying sales tax any longer? How non-competitive does a retailer have to be to depend, absolutely depend, on that tax loophole v. brick and mortar stores? And if that's someone's only point of differentiation, how good of a business are they anyway?

Posted by: ThresherK on June 17, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly