There is little doubt that the novel coronavirus has changed our lives in many ways. Energy use is down, as with any recession, but has shifted to residential more than any time in the past.
Other aspects of our society have changed, too. The pandemic has forced us to stay indoors as much as possible, so office meetings, seminars, classes, and even doctor’s visits, are occurring virtually.
But the pandemic has really smashed traditional stores. Business Insider reports that in the United States over 12,000 stores will be closing this year – 6,300 have already announced – not including small businesses like restaurants which will amount to many times this number.
This follows record store closings in 2019 of more than 9,300, which follows previous record closures about 8,000 in 2017, long before COVID-19 was even a blip on the radar.
Countless obituaries had been written for traditional shopping, mega malls, brick and mortar retailers, and mom and pop shops, but according to a new survey of United States shoppers by TopData, the ongoing global pandemic is on track to all but eliminate retail and commerce as we once knew it.
As expected, the shopping is switching to online purchasing. (Full disclosure – I have been shopping more online these past few months…)
Nearly three quarters of those surveyed (73.5%) reported that they are shopping online more now than they did prior to the spread of COVID-19. Moreover, nearly 9 in 10 (88%) said they will continue to shop online more even after a cure or vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered.
· 67% report buying clothing online instead of in-store
· 60% report buying household items like toilet paper online instead of in-store
· 56% report buying groceries online instead of in-store
· 51% report buying cleaning supplies online instead of in-store
· 49% report buying electronics online instead of in-store
This trend will continue for a long time. Certainly, the job losses from store closings will not be replaced one-for-one by jobs at online shopping hubs.
So the question is – how will our economy survive?