The gap between traditional brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers is clear.
A Commerce Department report Friday showed total US retail sales jumped 1.3% month-on-month in April.
And apart from car dealers and gas stations, there was another clear winner: online retailers.
The report showed that non-store retail sales — at places like Amazon and eBay — rose 2.1% in April from March. At the same time, department-store sales (excluding leased departments) rose 0.3%.
But the year-over-year trend showed an even bigger outperformance gap. Online retail sales were up 10.2%, the most among major categories in the retail sales report.
Earlier this week, earnings results from some major department stores illustrated why they are straggling. Take Macy’s for example, which said weak consumer spending and slow international sales were reasons for its underperformance. Or Kohl’s, which said it had to offer discounts deep enough to clear excess inventories.
“Clearly they have got to get more competitive in terms of their online offerings,” said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management, which oversees $20 billion in assets.
“The convenience factor is a big driver of the way consumers are spending today, and the entire experience of going to the mall just seems as though it’s becoming less part of the American lifestyle, particularly for the younger generation — the millennials,” he told Business Insider.
Stuart Hoffman, PNC chief economist, said in a note that the weak earnings from retailers do not reflect poorly on consumer spending, but rather show a shift in buying to online.
This chart shows the three-month moving average of department-store and non-store sales growth or decline. Since January 2009, department-store sales have fallen 61% of the time month-on-month, versus 28% of the time for online shops.