Metro Trends Show Retail Transformation Taking Place in Central Arkansas

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 12:00 am  

Digital commerce has transformed the retail sector in central Arkansas just as it has throughout the United States, and signs indicate continued transformation. That’s the conclusion of the latest “Metro Trends” report from Metroplan, the planning agency for Pulaski, Faulkner, Saline and Lonoke counties.

“As recently as the mid-1990s, retail trade was almost entirely a matter of people shopping at stores,” the report notes. Although the market changed with stores moving from urban centers (city downtowns) to suburban centers (malls) and then to big-box outposts, retailing always required real estate.

“That is no longer the case,” the report says, as e-commerce has continued its steady growth, to nearly 5 percent of U.S. retail sales by 2011, as seen in the accompanying chart.

The trend toward e-commerce “has undoubtedly influenced local taxable retail sales,” the report says. The accompanying Retail Sales Index chart, adjusting for seasonal change and inflation, shows that retail sales in central Arkansas have dropped 7.8 percent between January 2006 and August 2013. The chart’s figures represent taxable retail sales as calculated by the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration and don’t include online sales.

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