Online sales are both making and breaking the retail trade. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:
Ecommerce and the globalization of retail crush distribution channels, wholesalers, local retailers, large retailers, prices, and margins.
Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy, Home Depot, Nordstrom, etc. — they all spend vast sums of money building out their ecommerce sites and their fulfillment infrastructure. And the big lump-sum figures are starting to show up in their regulatory filings.
Other major retailers didn’t take the threat of ecommerce seriously, and didn’t have the funds to take it seriously, as they were squeezed by the private-equity firms that owned them, and just put up a website, hoping for the best: Many of them have gone bankrupt. This includes notably, Toys R Us, Sears and Kmart, Bon-Ton Stores, Borders Books, Claire Stores, Sports Authority, Limited Stores, and Payless Shoe Source.
Now the brick-and-mortar survivors are scrambling furiously to get on top of this existential threat that many had blown off for years as irrelevant to their business, thinking that this whole ecommerce thing was overblown, and that ecommerce is only a small part of retail, that it was too small to worry about, etc. etc.