Most of us are aware that the U.S. Census Bureau is the agency tasked with counting and collecting information about our population every ten years. However, the department also collects data related to the economy and the people who currently reside in this country. The results of the research are shared with other federal agencies to support their operations. The Census Bureau also publishes several reports and posts research results online to make information easily accessible by the general public.
U.S Sales Report
Surveys the Industry
One report of interest to retailers and manufacturers in the U.S. Sales report, a monthly measurement that collects sales data on 4,900 firms in the retail industry. The surveys help identify trends that are transforming the retail landscape.
Racking Up Record
In 2018, retail sales hit a record $6 trillion, that’s $1.6 trillion more than consumers spent before the recession when retail sales were at an all-time high. What is behind the surge in retail sales? Technology and changing consumer behavior are at the forefront of the challenge’s online retailers, and brick-and-mortar stores are currently experiencing. Understanding what motivates customers to buy, and figuring out what products they want will ultimately determine which retailers survive.
The Impact of Emerging Technology
Advancements in technology previously thought of as “space-age” concepts with few real-life applications, are now becoming the norm for creating an exciting in-store and online shopping experience. New possibilities are emerging that will engage customers by personalizing how they interact with products while shopping.
Incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) into programming has enabled customers to create relationships with businesses, brands, and products that reflect their lifestyles. Customers are receptive to the new technology and believe it is beneficial. According to a survey conducted by Tech Pro Research:
- 88 percent of respondents said using in-store technology (mobile, AR/VR and automated payments) made shopping easier
- 67 percent reported using technology makes shopping more enjoyable
Changes How Customers Shop
Smartphone and tablets are a necessity for many consumers who want to achieve tangible results from their shopping experience. It’s not surprising that mobile devices are responsible for more than half of all internet traffic. The facts speak for themselves.
- Over 230 million U.S. consumers own smartphones
- About 100 million U.S. consumers own tablets
- 79% of smartphone owners have used their devices to make online purchases in the last six months
- 80% of shoppers used a mobile phone in-store to compare prices, check reviews or locate another store
Online Sales Continue to Grow
Brick-and-mortar stores are taking a big hit from online retailers. Between the years 2000 and 2018, department stores sales dropped almost 50 percent. During that same period, online sales grew 300 percent. During the first three months in 2019, nearly 6,000 stores closed. This startling statistic indicates the number of closures in the first quarter of the year already exceeds the total of 5,800 stores in 2018.
However, brick-and-mortar stores will continue to be a destination for consumers—although there will be fewer of them. The most successful stores will seamlessly integrate both the online and in-store shopping experience. Customers are happy to shop online while wearing their pajamas, so they need a little motivation to get dressed and drive to the local mall or neighborhood store. They’re willing to go to a store that offers over-the-top customer service and gives them the ability to see, touch, and demo the products.
Consumers are time-conscious and expect quick results. So, they shop for their favorite brands and products using multiple channels. Online, in-store, mobile, social media and print are all options. Consumer spending drives almost 70% of economic growth. A booming economy is a win for retailers. So the more opportunities consumers have to purchase goods and services, the better.