Online shopping is officially king, signalling a tipping point in the retail apocalypse

  • Sales at online retailers beat out those at places like brick-and-mortar department stores in February.
  • According to Bespoke Investment Group, this is the culmination of a trend that’s been building up for years.
  • For companies attempting to survive the retail apocalypse, it’s a stark reminder of the importance of digital sales.

This won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who’s come to rely on Amazon Prime, but online shopping is here to stay.

Bespoke Investment Group on Tuesday highlighted the US Census Bureau’s latest retail sales estimates, which this week found that so-called nonstore sales made up 11.813% of total sales in February.

This was the first time on record that online sales beat out brick-and-mortar sales in the Census Bureau’s general-merchandise category, which accounted for 11.807% of total sales, according to the firm.

It’s not a major difference, as Bespoke pointed out in its analysis. “Sure, we had to go out to three decimal places, so the margin of different is extremely small,” the firm said.

Read more: The 10 retailers with the most devoted customers in America

Still, Bespoke also posted a chart demonstrating how much the share of retail sales has changed since 1992. Nonstore purchases have risen steadily since the 1990s, while general-merchandise sales have fallen since peaking around 2009.

General-merchandise stores include department stores, warehouse clubs, and supercenters. Other categories in the overall list include sales from brick-and-mortar places like furniture stores, clothing stores, electronics stores, and grocery stores.

This trend may represent a turning point in the retail apocalypse, which threatens to devastate retailers that fail to adapt to the changing shopping environment.

Overall, US retail sales declined 0.2% in February, signalling an economic slowdown. But the good news continues to roll in for online retailers like Amazon. According to the Census Bureau, the nonstore sector’s sales grew 0.9% from January and 10% from February 2018.

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