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CBRE: E-commerce still lacks traction in some retail categories


E-commerce has generated significant volumes of sales in the electronics and clothing industries, but has yet to gain traction in other retail sectors.

According to research from CBRE, data from the United States Commerce Department revealed extensive e-commerce penetration in certain retail categories such as electronics and appliances, with a 19.5% share of category sales – or $20.4 billion — occurring online. Similarly, $24.2 billion of apparel and accessories sales occurred online, but that amounted to only 9.5% of that sector's overall sales.

General merchandise, which includes department stores and other mass merchandisers, also represents a high volume of Internet sales ($22.5 billion) but a low rate of e-commerce penetration (3.3%).

Yet, other categories, such as food and beverage and motor vehicles, both under 0.1%, remain relatively unscathed. (The Commerce Department data is from 2015, which is the latest available.)

Specifically, food and beverage stores, which consist primarily of groceries and supermarkets, remain among the lowest for e-commerce share at 0.1% and only $1 billion in total internet sales. Meanwhile, motor vehicle and parts dealers feature the lowest rate of e-commerce penetration, as most car sales occur at brick-and-mortar dealerships. This is likely to rise over the coming years as online vendors grow, but the current annual e-commerce sales for this category are just $528 million, according to the report.

“This new data underscores the categories that shopping-center owners will find most resilient amid online sales, including health care, food and beverage, and motor vehicles,” said Melina Cordero, CBRE head of Americas retail research. “One finding that might surprise some observers is that e-commerce accounts for a smaller percentage of apparel sales — 9.5% — than many may assume, given recent store-closure announcements and current rhetoric in the market.”

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