Select Page

Image result for computerECON First believes that business success centers around knowing the economic and demographic characteristics of each unique primary market area. While business experience, insights and intuition are important, they are substantially advanced by hard data.

As evidenced by rising vacancy rates in malls, brick and mortar retailing is under attack by booming electronic sales.

The U.S. Census Bureau compiles quarterly data on electronic sales. During 2016 E-commerce sales (transactions conducted over the Internet) accounted for 8.3% of total U.S. retail sales…$391 billion.

Recently E-commerce sales have been rising at 14% to 15% per annum. Between 2005 and 2015 while total U.S. retail sales increased 147%, total E-commerce sales jumped 333%.

The obvious question for any retail business is should they diversify into E-commerce sales?


The penetration of E-commerce sales varies widely by merchandise line.

E-commerce sales presently account for almost 18% of total retail sales of clothing,  clothing accessories, and shoes. In second place, with an E-commerce market share of almost 10% are furniture and home furnishing.

Third with an E-commerce market share of nearly 9% is electronics and appliances, followed at 8% is computer hardware and software.

Over the last decade the fastest growing E-commerce merchandise lines are, in order, sporting goods, clothing-clothing accessories (including shoes), furniture and home furnishings, and drugs, health aids and beauty aids.

Finally, recognition should be given to the catch-all sector of “other merchandise.” This sector accounts for 18% of all E-commerce sales and is the second fastest growing sector. This category includes everything from auto parts and accessories, jewelry, hardware, and lawn and garden supplies.


ECON First specializes in providing the hard data that allows business owners to make more informed decisions regarding start-ups. expansion, marketing channels, and pricing strategies. It is inappropriate to apply summary measures taken from nation or state level data and assume they apply to specific primary market areas. A more comprehensive analysis is required for business success.

The decision by a business to complement its brick and mortar sales with an E-commerce sales channel needs to be thought through analytically. An obvious first pass is whether or not your merchandise line is a strong component of the current E-commerce market. Other considerations include the expected inventory, handling and shipping costs? Will prices be competitive if shipping costs are included? What are the IT and operating costs of adapting the business website to handle Internet sales? Will E-commerce extend your business’s market reach?

Let ECON First help you to better evaluate expansion into E-commerce.

Dr. John E. Stapleford

ECON First