RETAIL SEASON

Investors Bet on More Pain for Retailers
(WSJ)

Black Friday pulls in a record $7.4 billion in online sales, as many turn to mobile orders (CNN)

Black Friday is expected to provide retailers with historic revenue streams, reportedly exceeding $7.4 billion. Solid performance. But the question for many retail investors is where those revenues went. Online or in-store.

Retailers still do not provide shoppers with a reason to leave the comfort of their homes to make purchases in person. Long lines, poor customer service, and undesirable shopping environments are no substitute for click of a button purchases. The online channel continues to better serve consumer needs than in-store experience.

Site to store pickups are a good middle for some retailers. But, store staff may still make that channel less than desirable if there are noticeable glitches in the process. Misunderstandings by store associates can make it harder for shoppers to justify entering a store at all.

Not surprising investors are down on retailers whose primary channel is in-store. The future will favor online based retailers and retailers that effectively leverage both channels. Brick and mortar stores may employ a large number of people, but lack the efficiency to maximize returns on investment. As more shoppers head to the web, the issue will persist.