Economy Watch: E-Commerce Sales Impacting Certain Retail Sectors

While internet sales have been steadily increasing each year and each month, they are only generating significant volume in sectors like apparel and electronics, according to a new CBRE report. E-commerce has yet to gain as much traction in other retail areas.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons user Intel Free Press
Image via Flickr Creative Commons user Intel Free Press

Internet-based sales have been steadily increasing each month and each year, according to Census Bureau reports, unnerving physical retailers and their landlords. But e-commerce has generated significant volumes of sales only in certain retail sectors, according to a new CBRE Group analysis of recently released government data. Electronics and clothing retailers might have much to dread, but online sales have yet to gain as much traction in other retail sectors.

U.S. Commerce Department figures show extensive e-commerce penetration in electronics and appliances, with a 19.5 percent share of category sales—or $20.4 billion—occurring online. Similarly, $24.2 billion of apparel and accessories sales occurred online, but that amounted to only 9.5 percent of that sector.

Internet-resistant retail

Other categories, such as food and beverage and motor vehicles, are seeing online sales both under 0.1 percent, thus remaining relatively untouched, according to the CBRE analysis. The Commerce Department data is from 2015, the latest available.

“This new data underscores the categories that shopping center owners will find most resilient, including health care, food and beverage, and motor vehicles,” said Melina Cordero, CBRE head of Americas retail research. “One finding that might surprise some is that e-commerce accounts for a smaller percentage of apparel sales than many may assume, given recent store-closure announcements.”