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Brick-And-Mortar Retailers Dominate The 2015 Shopping Season


The 2015 holiday shopping season has been officially tallied, and the results were incontrovertible: brick-and-mortar retailers still dominate the season.  

According to a new report by CBRE, the shopping season was driven by stores open longerhigher online traffic than previous years, and a delivery network that was firing on all cylinders.

Online shopping rose to $83B, according to Adobe Systems estimates. On Cyber Monday alone, Internet sales brought in $3.07B and rose 16% over last year’s online shop-a-thon. Timing, demographics and speed of shipping are continually chipping at traditional retailing.

Still, brick-and-mortar sales accounted for the majority of spending and returns. That's great news for retail landlords and tenant reps. 


Robert Kramp

CBRE Houston director of research Robert Kramp says people purchase more volume at physical stores. A day of shopping at the mall where you have small shops, boutiques, specialty stores and department stores weighs more heavily against single cart transactions online with any particular website.

Sectors like home furnishings are still predominantly brick-and-mortar because shoppers want a sense of scale, texture, comfort, etc. The same goes for luxury, where online shopping doesn't give that same experience of retail therapy or pleasant customer service, Robert says.

But to get people in the doors, shops are resorting to anything they can think of, says CBRE SVP Eric Lestin. “Discounts, free shipping, free gift wrapping, honoring sales prices if the item isn’t in stock and must be ordered…”


In fact, online competition is forcing brick-and-mortar places to step up their game, Eric says. Robert agrees. Stores are enhancing the customer experience and offering attractive discounts. A number of major retailers now allow shoppers to browse and place orders online with a quick in-store same day pick-up option. It's essentially online shopping without the added shipping time wait. "I’ve personally done it with stores that I know will have what I want—but I don’t like looking around for it such as The Container Store,” he admits.

Online shopping can also help local stores become national without spreading their footprint—the CBRE report cites grocery store HEB as an example; it'll ship its Texas fare anywhere in the USA. Eric says LL Bean and Land’s End are pioneers in this; it's essentially the catalog model being placed over grocery stores.


Yet after all the presents have been chosen with such care, it is often (like one-third of sales orders often) the case that presents must be returned. The ease of ordering might be turning us into sloppy shoppers. The lack of face-to-face experience with fit or color might also be to blame, says Robert. He also thinks the sheer pervasiveness and frequency of online sales promos could be behind more than just a few cases of buyer’s remorse—especially if a better deal or price is accessible somewhere else just a few days later. “Stay tuned on this one as retailers work through handling the logistics of surging return volume,” says Robert.

Related Topics: CBRE, Robert Kramp, Eric Lestin