Retail and E-Commerce Quick Notes

A few months back, we talked about e-commerce not being the only influence of store closings in the U.S. and referenced a Bloomberg article about consumers’ increasing interest in “experiential retail.”  Well, retailers seem to be responding this holiday season and are looking for ways to emphasize experiences, rather than mere shopping. For instance, as Retail Dive reports,  Target will be offering some 25,000 hours of in-store events, including “toy experiences.” In a similar vein, Walmart will be offering what it is calling “play dates,” allowing children to test out toys in-store. Interestingly, Amazon, which is not in a position to offer this kind of in-store experience—or at least not yet—will actually be mailing out a toy catalog this year. (If that sounds familiar, it might have to do with the fact that it is essentially filling the void that used to be occupied by Toys ‘R’ Us.)

Of course, the biggest e-commerce news of the week is that Amazon announced where HQ2 (and HQ3?) will be. They’ve selected Long Island City in Queens, NY and Crystal City in Arlington County, VA and they plan to bring 25,000 jobs to each locale. (They also announced that they would opening an operations center in Nashville, establishing 5,000 jobs.) There have already been a number of interesting think pieces about the announcement, including Citylab, CNN, and Curbed, among others. While the merits of Amazon’s bidding process are up for update and questions abound about whether the tax breaks are too big, one thing does seem certain—e-commerce is reshaping our cities both literally and figuratively.

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