Poll: Do you think the death of bricks-and-mortar retail is overstated?

Harvey Norman’s Irish boss said the story that e-commerce is killing physical stores is ‘fake news’.

By Conor McMahon Reporter, Fora

HARVEY NORMAN’S IRISH boss, Blaine Callard, thundered onto the main stage at Retail Excellence’s annual conference last week to denounce the popular theory that online retail is killing physical stores.

The outspoken Australian dubbed the common narrative that e-commerce is destroying bricks and mortar stores as “fake news” that doesn’t accurately portray modern retailing.

Citing statistics scraped together by market research firm eMarketer.com, Callard noted that just 9% of shopping in the US occurs online – nowhere near “unicorn territory”, he said – and suggested that figure is closer to around 6% in Ireland.

However, trade group Retail Ireland warned in a 2017 policy document on future-proofing the industry that competition from the online space has “put downward pressure on retail prices and triggered a growing disparity between retail sales volumes and values”.

Meanwhile, the latest figures from Visa – the accuracy of which Callard also questioned – said that the value Irish online sales had increased more than 10% in the year to April, while face-to-face sales rose an anaemic 0.3%.

With that in mind, we’re asking Fora readers this week: Do you think the death of bricks-and-mortar retail is overstated?