Future of Retail Sales for the Next 18 Months

The past few years have been rocky ones for retailers in the U.S., with Internet-based sales and catalog purchases seriously affecting brick-and-mortar outlets; as a result, tens of thousands of displaced American workers have been forced into the job market (Sicker, 2002). In fact, the total e-commerce market grew from approximately $127 billion in 2000 to more than $1.4 trillion by the end of 2003 (Gnuschke, 2000). This point is also made by Challenger (2000), who reports, “Thousands of former retail employees will flood the job market as competition from catalogues and high overhead costs force many retail stores to close. They will compete for positions in marketing and sales, making those sectors of the job market among the most intensely competitive” (p. 20). At the same time, retail stores and malls that do manage to survive these encroachments on their traditional turf will increasingly be required to offer a wide range of alternatives to shopping by providing entertainment, movies, music, and special events in an attempt to attract customers away from online outlets and catalog shopping (Challenger 2000). Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the next 18 months will be characterized by large malls becoming more “amusement park”-like, while traditional brick-and-mortar stores will continue to press their online presence in an effort to remain competitive. In this regard, while the online environment continues to evolve, current trends suggest that e-commerce will continue to capture an increasingly significant percentage of the market share for many retail goods and services over the next 18 months. In the future, more consistent measures of e-commerce will provide analysts with better data about e-market economic activity and the performance of e-commerce as well (Gnuschke, 2000). In the final analysis, retail sales are going to increase, but the form these sales take will continue their trends to catalog and online alternatives, except for those selected retail items that do not readily lend themselves to these environments (e.g., products such as hardware that needs a “touch-and-feel” experience to help consumers make a purchasing decision).

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Challenger, J.S. (2000, September). Workplace trends for the 21st Century. USA Today,

129(2664), 20.

Gnuschke, J.E. (2000, Spring). E-commerce is a powerful economic engine for 21st century.

Business Perspectives, 12(3), 6.

Sicker, M. (2002). The political economy of work in the 21st Century: Implications for an aging American workforce. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.