Today is a special Friday because it’s the earliest possible start to the Labor Day long weekend. And it got me thinking about the significance of Labor Day to the world of e-commerce. Here’s what the U.S. Department of Labor web site says about this annual holiday:
“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country”
What struck me when I read this was the word “workers.” I don’t know about you, but to me it sounds somewhat archaic. Imagine you have a young son or daughter who asks: “What are workers?” Would your answer be a definition that includes you? Or would it be something that sounds more like your father or grandfather?
As someone who can remember standing outside the factory gates waiting for his father’s shift to end, it’s sometimes staggering to think about how much commerce and our economy has changed in the 114 years since this federal holiday was created. These days a lot of Americans labor on projects that are their own, or in which they own a stake. And a lot of Americans work to build things (like this blog) that have no tangible physical manifestation; they are purely digital in nature.
In the world of online retailing, the “sites” we’re building look nothing like building sites. But consider this: In 2007, the Office Depot web site generated as much revenue as 565 of the company’s bricks and mortar stores. It’s like the folks who built that web site constructed more than five hundred “real” stores.
If consumer spending is the engine that drives our economy, and if online retailing is delivering more than 50 percent of revenue growth for many retailers, which it is, then maybe those of us laboring to build better web sites should take a moment to feel good about ourselves this Labor Day weekend. Have a good one!