This blog is dedicated to understanding what has happened, is happening and is going to happen to the retail storefront industry in the United States due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Most Americans have basically stayed home for two months. And that means they are shopping on site a lot less. Outside of “essentials”—groceries, medicine, gasoline, the occasional piece of hardware—a hundred million Americans temporarily stopped exercising their in-store browsing muscles.
The move away from stores has been slowly building for years, thanks to the steady expansion of ecommerce. But it was largely buoyed by a growing economy, allowing for bricks and clicks to coexist. Now, that trend has been exacerbated at both ends: by people who haven’t been able to go to stores, and are happier than ever to pay for shipping and delivery; and by those who are suffering, financially or physically, and aren’t shopping at all.
Shopping is a big deal. Broadly, personal consumer expenditure is a $14 trillion contribution to the American economy and represents 70 percent of GDP. We shop, therefore we are. But now we’re shopping differently, and less, at least temporarily. Retail spending dropped 8% in March and another 17% in April, record numbers, and while they are expected to rebound, no one is sure exactly how.
The outcomes of this will be fascinating. There will be good news, like huge and sustained increases in the manufacture and sale of certain goods, and bad, like many stores that closed in March and will not reopen. Already we’ve seen multiple bankruptcies in the fashion and retailing industry and announcements of restaurants saying goodbye. This site is intended to track that news. Large and small, we’ll try to paint a picture of what this landscape looks like, and track its imminent evolution.
The person behind this is David Wertheimer, a longtime ecommerce executive and blogger, who last tracked these trends in the wake of the financial crisis on the site Timely Demise. There’s nothing timely about what’s going on now—only causes and effects beyond most everyone’s control. It won’t always be fun to read, but it will always be interesting. Thanks for visiting.