Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Just Watch that Curve Rise!

Click to enlarge, Esc to return.
What you see here is retail sales, indexed from 1992 to 2010. The sales of each industry were set to 100 for 1992, and then expressed, going forward, as change from that base. The winner of this race was Non-Store Retailers, a category dominated by electronic commerce. It is a relatively small category of the total sectors shown here, 12.9 percent in 2010. But it was 6.3 percent in 1992; its sales had quadrupled in volume. Is that finger pointing to the future? Are brick and mortar doomed? Not quite, to be sure. But if I were in the brick-and-mortar sector of retailing, I would be worried—and no doubt I would already have my website up, just to hedge my bets.

Some notes:
  • General merchandise includes department stores, big discounters like Wal-Mar, small discounters like dollar stores, and warehouse clubs. Warehouse clubs turned in the biggest growth in the 1992-2010 period within this category.
  • Miscellaneous stores include florists, office supplies, stationary, gifts, novelties, souvenirs, used goods stores, and others not specifically called out.
  • Health and personal care stores are dominated by drug stores (Walgreens, CVS, etc.)
  • Non-store retailers also include vending machines, direct sellers like Avon, and companies that sell fuel oil or gas (propane and butane) directly to home-owners. E-commerce was the second largest portion of this industry in 1992 (44.9%). In 2010 it was the largest (76.4%).
Volume ranks in 1992 and in 2010 were these:

1992
2010
Food and beverage stores 
General merchandise stores 
General merchandise stores 
Food and beverage stores 
Building materials and garden equipment 
Non-store retailers 
Clothing and clothing access. stores 
Building materials and garden equipment 
Health and personal care stores 
Health and personal care stores 
Non-store retailers 
Clothing and clothing access. stores 
Miscellaneous store retailers 
Miscellaneous store retailers 
Furniture and home furnishings stores 
Furniture and home furnishings stores 
Sporting  goods, hobby, book, and music 
Sporting  goods, hobby, book, and music 
Electronics and appliance stores 
Electronics and appliance stores 

I have the data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Use this link and then select Latest Annual Retail Trade Report, using Sales (1992-2010) under that heading. 

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