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January 24, 2007

Do online sales hurt in-store business?

The retail battleground increasingly appears to be between online buying and in-store buying. But N.C. State University economist Mike Walden says the two are not necessarily competitors.

"It used to be that was the case, but I think so-called bricks-and-mortar stores -- your traditional store where you have a location you can go to -- they are increasingly using online sales. So they are not necessarily competing with online sales, they are embracing them," says Dr. Walden, a professor of agricultural and resource economics. "In fact, online sales from traditional stores have increased 140 percent since 2003, double the rate of Web-only stores.

"Traditional stores are also using Web sites and sales to get people to come to the store, for example, by saying, 'If you buy online, we’ll offer you immediate pickups, so come into the store and pick up that item,' or offering gift cards if people come in the store.

"So I think increasingly we are going to see a blend of online purchasing with in-store purchasing by the traditional retailers," he concludes.

Posted by deeshore at January 24, 2007 08:00 AM