Local News

Online shopping leaves local stores with less

Posted November 23, 2012
Updated November 24, 2012

— Retailers large and small welcomed the annual onslaught that Black Friday brings. The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the day that the holiday shopping season begins in earnest and stores see their financial fortunes reverse. 

A check of the sales circulars and crowded parking lots would lead one to believe that Black Friday is widely embraced by shoppers too. But that is not exactly the case. 

Jim Penny is among the many who fail to see the value in fighting the crowds. "You're not getting a much better deal, especially if you consider the time you spent standing in line and elbowing other people out of the way," he said.

Penny does much of his shopping online, all year-round. "I buy toilet paper from Amazon," he said.

Shoppers like him are cutting into the bottom line for brick-and-mortar stores that anticipate a holiday boost.

Andy Ellen, spokesman for the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association says holiday shopping makes up 20 to 40 percent of retailers' sales. Analysts predict holiday shoppers will spend about the same amount this year as last year. Online sales are expected to grow 15 percent, which means the converse for traditional stores.

"If we start to pare away from this 20 to 40 percent, that's where those guys, those retailers have a hard time keeping the doors open," Ellen said.

"That's the biggest challenge right now – getting people out of their houses and getting them off the couch with their computer and getting foot traffic out into the physical store."

The Small Business Saturday movement is one way that retailers look to lure those shoppers with one-of-a-kind stock and personal service. 

American Express is largely credited with starting the trend and promoting it through social media. The official Facebook page has more than 3 million "Likes."

At Cameron Village in Raleigh, home to numerous boutiques and niche stores, owners were anticipating a spike in customers Saturday.

"We interact with our customers a lot, through Facebook and our email and in the store," said Debbi Cochran, owner of Cat Banjo. "We just physically tell them, 'We are a local business. We support local artists. Shopping here keeps the money in Raleigh.'"

Cochran has made up T-shirts with the words "shop local or stay home" on them to be given away to the first customers as an extra reward for patronizing her store.

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  • clickhere Nov 23, 2012

    with online shopping, you get a great description of the product, consumer reviews, expert help if you need it, and an easy return policy. I do as much as I can online, and my car doesn't get scratched / dented in the retail / mall parking lots.

  • raleighlynn Nov 23, 2012

    This is about my fourth year of online Christmas shopping. I shop online for most everything. No crowds, no wasted gas, and it comes right to the door. Can't beat that with a stick.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 23, 2012

    "Being disabled, online shopping is a lifesaver. Point, click and wait on the Big Brown Truck. I even use Harris Teeters drive up shopping.."

    I would have worked for them, but those shorts were just too much.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 23, 2012

    Over time online is going to pretty much do away with the big box stores. They ought to turn them into local holding warehouses and run same day delivery routes for a fee, and second day for free. The cost of operating and staffing these stores just adds to product cost. Given that most of the sales people in the big stores know little to nothing about product and people mostly care about price, brick and mortar makes little sense. Banks are going to start eliminating their physical presence. I wonder how long it will be before 3d printers eliminate not only stores, but manufacturers.

  • warbirdlover Nov 23, 2012

    Being disabled, online shopping is a lifesaver. Point, click and wait on the Big Brown Truck. I even use Harris Teeters drive up shopping..

  • whatelseisnew Nov 23, 2012

    "This should be an everyday thing, and not just a once a year deal. Shopping locally helps OUR local economy!"

    Actually we would serve ourselves far better if people spent less and saved and invested more. Course if I used plastic money and occasionally went bankrupt to get rid of the credit card debt then maybe I would agree with more shopping.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 23, 2012

    "Love to support the good folks that live in our community!!"

    I buy food and fuel in NC, very little else. Sales tax is too high. If I lived closer to a border, I would not even buy food and fuel in this State. Gas taxes are too high. I don't do much online stuff. The time I do buy clothes here is when they have the annual tax holiday. If the retailers want more business year round then they need to get on the Legislature to cut spending so they can also cut taxes.

  • sthiggs Nov 23, 2012

    I would love to buy my items in a brick and mortor store but many times they don't have what I need.

  • geosol Nov 23, 2012

    Love to support the good folks that live in our community!!

  • ListentoMeNow Nov 23, 2012

    I am tired of hearing NC whine about losing so much revenue to online shoppers. If the local stores would offer deals as good as folks can get online then they would be getting the lost business. I'm going to shop the store that gives me the best price and more than not that is online. Plus, if you want more customers then train your employees in the art of customer service. I have quit shopping Wal Mart in Garner because it is one of the most unorganized and frustrating stores I have ever been in. I think NC should try to fix their budget in other areas and stop griping about money they feel they are entitled to.

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