I was particularly happy to see the Fedex guy today because he was dropping off my personal copy of Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide: 2009 Edition. I know I will be thumbing through this hefty 432-page volume for the next 12 months, until the 2010 Edition is published. At that point 2009 will be moved to the bookshelf, next to the heavily highlighted and dog-eared copy of 2008 that I am retiring right now.
As you probably know, these guides are chock full of stats about online retailing and articles that put those stats in perspective, starting with the Publisher’s Letter, penned by Jack Love. This year he describes the motivation behind the publication: “the firm belief that the more everyone knows about the nation’s 500 largest e-retailers, the faster e-retailing will advance as an industry.”
I think everyone who works in this industry is thankful to Mr. Love, not only for publishing this information, but also for articulating exactly why the industry that it serves–and he serves and we serve–is such an important industry:
When you consider that online retailing has been the fastest growing segment of the American retail market for more than a decade, this directory is a vital publication indeed, especially when the recovery of the American economy is dependent on consumer spending at the retail level.
And there are numbers to back that up. As Mark Brohan, Research Director at Internet Retailer, notes in his Overview: “overall web sales were responsible for 20% of the growth in total retail sales last year while accounting for about 6.5% of sales.” In other words, while 2008 was not a growth year for bricks-and-mortar retailers, online retailing kept the cash registers ringing. And the role of the Top 500 can be assessed like this: Top 500 sales grew 11.7% last year, which is more than 8X the overall U.S. retail sales growth in 2008.
There are many things to enjoy in online retailing, like the efficient matching of buyers with sellers, facilitating the smooth delivery of goods from manufacturers to consumers. The idea that you are doing your part to help America recover from its economic woes is an added and welcome bonus.