Monday, July 21, 2008

This New Thing Called E-Commerce

Says the New York Times:
To Save Gas, Shoppers Stay Home and Click

To go shopping these days, more Americans are trading in their car keys for a keyboard.

Online shopping is gaining at a time when simply filling up a gas tank to head to the mall can seem like a spending spree.
First of all, just about every story about retail shopping trends over the past decade has pretty much used the headline "[Insert reason du jour here], Shoppers Stay Home and Click." That is, e-commerce has been growing steadily anyway for the past 10 years, and high gas prices are just one of many factors contributing to that growth. It's not like e-commerce was on a downward trend. Personally, I hate shopping, and I can never find the things I want in proper stores, so I prefer buying stuff online. In terms of gas, I calculated what it costs to get from my house to the Strip Mall Hell at Exit 15 and it is about $4.50, or what the average shipping cost of something is. So that's a wash, as far as I'm concerned, but I am aware that many people live some distance from shopping. It's entirely possible that shipping costs may rise since UPS and USPS vehicles use, well, gas.

However, the one drawback to e-commerce is that while chains do not lose business, individual shops do, which means layoffs and branch closings, and fewer jobs in a given area, furthering the economic pressures. After all, one of the reasons why these price hikes are so bad is that people's pay has not increased accordingly.

It's funny, though, how in all the discussions of the increasing costs of everything, everyone stresses saving and that the very thought of suggesting that employers pay people more is verboten. Funny, that.

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