This year the Christmas holiday passed for me much as it always has; we were lucky enough to have presents under the tree and everyone made it home for the celebration. There was one major exception to the normal gift exchange though. This year was the year my mother discovered online shopping.
Finding out that the majority of my gifts came from Amazon or other online retailers rather than the local mall ultimately did not feel like that big of a difference. But it has certainly led me to think about the changing way in which we shop for products When people who shop for family essentials and gifts weekly alter their habits to incorporate online purchases, what happens to the physical stores? Is life online killing the grocery market?
Changing Shopping Trends
My mom is just one of many people that delved into online shopping this year. Mintel’s Online Shopping Report for 2015 suggested that approximately 70 percent of people shop online at least once a month. This percentage is up from just under 25 percent in 2014, which suggests that this trend is not going away, but rather escalating rapidly.
Some of the major reasons that people identify for shopping online include avoiding crowds, finding unique items, and not having to leave the comfort of home. Avoiding waiting in line to purchase only a couple small things and not having to leave home in the first place enable people to be more productive and not have to spend the full day going to various stores to find the best deal or a special item as a gift. Plus the variety of things that can be found on the internet cannot be rivaled.
For many, shopping from the internet provides even more significant benefits that just the common reasons to shop online listed above. In addition to all of those advantages, shopping online can actually help some people save substantial amounts of money. Online buys can cut out unplanned purchases that some reports suggest cost people an average of $11 extra for every grocery store trip. Frequently these are things such as gum, magazines, and goods that are placed on aisle ends to catch your eye.
But that isn’t the only way in which individuals are saving money by shopping online. This form of shopping can make it significantly easier to search multiple outlets for the best deal. It can also make it more reasonable to compare different products that would typically be offered in different locations across town. Add on free shipping instead of another tank of gas and online shopping quickly becomes not only more convenient, but more economical.
Are Markets Adapting?
Over the past ten years large grocery stores as a whole have lost roughly fifteen percent of their traditional market share, most of it is going towards online purchases. However, in many cities at least some percentage of this market share is also going towards small local stores, farmers markets, and even dollar stores. This suggests that consumers are beginning to deviate from stores that sell an okay version of everything and are instead searching for unique, quality goods.
In order to adapt, many large stores are finding new ways to draw customers in such as through adding small restaurants or coffee shops that encourage people to visit and stay longer. Furthermore, many are starting to hire skilled employees, such as trained butchers, that are able to give the store a more local vibe.
For many reasons, online shopping is definitely putting a dent in the bottom line of large box stores. Loyal shoppers turning towards online services for added convenience and price savings are making a big mark. Although many large stores are likely to continue surviving, it is unlikely that they will recover to their previous extent.