Online spending increased substantially this holiday, even though it's still a small player in the overall scheme of retail. Still, most economic experts say America has too many stores, and 2010 will see more shrinkage in the brick and mortar world.
It's already happening.
Here's a snapshot taken New Year's Day at the Disney Store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan-"Permanently Closed".
Across the country in Los Angeles, the very mall CNBC reported from Christmas week, Westfield Topanga, hosted closing sales this weekend for Eddie Bauer and Pottery Barn (there's a newer one nearby).
Meantime, research by Gomez, the web performance division of Compuware shows retailers' Web sites dramatically improved response times this holiday, even as many were processing record sales.
"Very few stumbles, less breakdowns or poor performances" President Jaime Ellertson tells CNBC.
The best performing sites were Apple, Office Depot, and TigerDirect (which does not have anything to do with Tiger Woods but maybe benefited from his notoriety?). Nike's homepage loaded the most quickly, at about a half second. Sites which had trouble processing transactions included HP Shopping and Costco. Ellertson says that on November 29th, the eve of Cyber Monday, 16 out of every 100 attempts to complete an online order at HP Shopping failed. "That type of failure leads to lost revenue in this important online channel."
Ellertson says there's been a "meteoric rise" in people shopping via mobile devices this year, but two-thirds are dissatisfied with the experience. He believes this will be the next big area of investment by retailers. Is the investment worth it? Ellertson says after Shopzilla reduced its homepage load time from seven seconds to two, "they reported not only increased conversions to revenue but a spike in revenue of about seven to 12 percent." He says retailers must respond quickly online or die. Long wait times are like walking up to a store and finding the doors locked. People will turn around (or click their mice) and go "to the next store where you can get your shopping done successfully."
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