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Did COVID Kill Retail Stores? It’s Complicated

A general assumption that state restrictions because of COVID-19 drove consumers from retail stores to online sales may not be completely accurate, according to a data analysis. While e-commerce sales skyrocketed in 2020, and in-store sales declined across the board, data from Commerce Signals indicates that some of the states with the largest percentage increases in e-commerce sales also saw among the smallest declines in in-store sales.

Commerce Signals tracks consumer spending through credit card and debit card data, collecting information from over 40 million U.S. households. It anonymizes that data and sells the information and analysis to retailers, marketers and others interested in consumer spending trends.

“We have some clients who are retailers in various categories – they are national merchants and we’re working with their corporate marketing groups,” Nick Mangiapane, chief marketing officer of Commerce Signals, told Modern Shipper. “Obviously, every merchant knows what their own stores are doing … but what is really hard for them is to understand if that is something they’re doing [nationally] or that the local store manager is doing well … or is that [store] in a county that has very rigorous restrictions or very loose restrictions?”

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A Modern Shipper analysis of the firm’s data from the period of March 15, 2020, through February 13, 2021, found that of the 10 states with the smallest percentage decline in in-store retail sales, six of them – West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina and Idaho – ranked in the top 10 of states with the highest percentage of e-commerce growth. Additionally, eight of them, including the top six, ranked among the top 10 in highest percentage of overall retail sales growth during that period.

Heat maps show this, suggesting that in general, states in the Southeast performed better in both areas…   Modern Shipper

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