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Seattle Times: Jolly holiday for shoppers buying online

Paul Andrews reports on the surge in online commerce this holiday season.

Shoppers this season are suffering from “Sunday-afternoon fatigue,” Davis said. They fight the crowds during the day at the mall and then, once Johnny and Sue are in bed, go online to purchase the items they were too impatient to stand in line for. Then there’s the “Monday-morning spike,” Davis said. Shoppers come to work with gift lists in hand and take advantage of high-speed connections to do their ordering.

These suggest a couple of trends. First, it seems obvious shoppers are using the mall to kick the tires. They still want to see and feel the items they’re purchasing, but they don’t actually buy at the store. But shoppers don’t want to “stand in line” online either. Broadband is an obvious incentive, as the “Monday-morning spike” indicates.

What does all this say about the future of retail? One might conclude online may supplant the need for physical outlets.

I can relate completely. We went to one of the local malls on Saturday afternoon. What a mistake that was. I came home and immediately went back to Amazon to pick up a few items!

I saw a related story last week in the Wall St. Journal which discussed the potential security risks associated with bomb threats at retail stores (such as Ikea experienced last week in Denmark).

The Sept. 11 attacks put the threat of domestic terrorism on everyone’s radar screen. But Wednesday’s events highlighted the particular vulnerability of shopping places as so-called soft targets for terrorists. “Retailers are the low-hanging fruit for someone who wants to get themselves into the headlines,” said George Wallace, chief executive of Management Horizons Europe Ltd., a retailing consulting firm in London. “These are public places with high numbers of traffic, they’re easy to get into, and it’s a quick and easy headline.”

Any more of that kind of nonsense and shopping online will really surge!

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