Are online sales helping stores that closed their doors?

Published: Apr. 7, 2020 at 10:27 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The shops on this typically busy Washington, D.C. street are empty, and it is not because of the rain. The dreary weather only adds to the current mood of the retail industry.

Some stores are even boarded up. Owners say it’s an extra precaution to protect their property.

“This is a challenging time. These are well-run businesses that, if not for the COVID-19 virus, would be thriving right now. So, it’s sort of a shock to the system,” said Brian Dodge, Retail Industry Leaders Association president.

Dodge represents big retailers like Macy’s, Best Buy and Nike. All have been forced to shut their doors.

“Only perhaps in times of war have we seen lack in consumer activity like we’ve seen right now,” Dodge said.

The focus is moving to online sales. Some retailers are offering heavy discounts or free shipping to draw in customers online.

The National Retail Federation tracks consumer trends. Its latest study shows more than half of consumers are ordering products online they would normally purchase in a store. But their chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz, says it’s not enough to offset losses from brick and mortar stores.

“It’s not the volume that you might think, because, I think, people are still fearful. They’re worried about their jobs, so they’re going to be purchasing bare essentials for the near term and not necessarily large amounts of other discretionary items,” Kleinhenz said.

As the country continues to fight the coronavirus, millions of Americans are out of work. So, it’s hard to say when businesses will open their doors, and shoppers will feel confident to spend again.

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