Will The Swine Flu Save Online Sales?

Government numbers on retail sales came out this morning falling 0.5% in one month. If it keeps up, that works out to a 6% annual rate. This comes on top of consumer confidence numbers out earlier in the week that were so bad it took the stock market down almost 200 points. The GDP economic numbers that showed 3.5% growth fueled a brief rally of 199 points on the DOW, until today’s numbers came out starting another 200+ point rout in the DOW.

What does this all mean for online sellers?  There is no question that the high number of job losses and pessimistic consumer confidence will impact holiday sales, but there in one offsetting possibility –The Swine Flu.

No one likes to make money from other people’s misery, but it is a fact that swine flu fears are already responsible for some of the drop in retail sales. Amazon just reported its best quarter ever and eBay’s sales were only down 1% when many analysts were expecting a larger drop. Nielsen numbers on website sales will be out soon and it will be interesting to see if online sales are growing or declining.  My bet is that we will see some growth –probably not much but as people fear the holiday crowds in the malls, I think online shopping will offset some of the retail sales lost to brick and mortar stores.

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