In a report that applies to the specialty toy business but is relevant for almost any specialty consumer product, ASTRA, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association has released a white paper on the implications of Internet retailing for the specialty toy industry. Perhaps the most important finding of the report was that “Internet retailers present a significant competitive challenge for independent brick-and-mortar stores—in many respects, a challenge that is more severe than that of big-box and other chain retailers.”
The white paper reported a 22% increase in online toy sales over the past year, a pace of growth that obviously far outpaces the slow growth of the market. The report also found that consumers often use smartphones to compare prices and availability while shopping in brick and mortar stores. And sales tax laws that exempt online sales from taxes that brick and mortar retailers must collect tile the competitive playing field in favor of online retailers.
The book business is another great example of this trend, in which Amazon is taking increasing share while chain stores are struggling and independent retailers have also taken a big hit.