Online shopping has skyrocketed in the last decade and a half; about eight-in-ten Americans are now online shoppers: 79% have made an online purchase of any type, up from only 22% back in 2002. In the United States alone e-commerce sales are estimated to total $353.7 billion for 2017, and increase to $485.3 billion by 2021.
Sure, online shopping may be more convenient, sometimes cheaper, and possibly offer more options than shopping at a brick & mortar store. But there is a cost to it: a vibrant, diverse, and thriving local economy.
Every time a consumer shops online with corporate behemoths like Amazon, it is a direct hit to the bottom line of a brick and mortar store. And because small businesses make up most of the retail economy (this number has been on a steady decline since the 1970s), local stores are the biggest losers. People spend what they spend. They are not spending more money than what they would have had they not shopped online. Instead online shoppers are spending their dollars outside of the local economy, which can lead to job loss, depressed commercial areas, and fewer tax dollars for local municipalities and their services.
Not to mention that many of our friends, families and neighbors have invested their lives in making their brick and mortar stores successful. Owning a retail shop is not simply “open the doors and they will come.” It takes hard work, great care, creativity and good taste. In addition to shopping online for a lot of their needs and wants, consumers now browse a local shop, see something they like, take a picture of it and try to find it cheaper online, adding more insult to injury.
November brings Black Friday, Small Business Saturday (yay!) and Cyber Monday. Last year’s Cyber Monday 2016 was the biggest day in the history of U.S. e-commerce with Black Friday not far behind. This year, we urge you to think local first – the future of our community is depending on it.