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Report: Traditional retailers account for bulk of e-commerce sales

Online shopping may be replacing the in-store experience, but it’s not the online-only retailers that are benefiting most, according to a new report from real estate firm CBRE Group Inc.

In fact, so-called pure-play e-retailers accounted for less than 4 percent of total retail sales last year. More than 50 percent of e-commerce sales were from traditional brick-and-mortar brands, CBRE said.

Traditional retailers also have been expanding into more U.S. distribution space than their online-only rivals. CBRE found that brick-and-mortar companies accounted in 2015 and 2016 for 58 percent of new leases for supply chain space, meaning retail-specific warehouses and distribution centers.

“Physical retail and online sales aren’t mutually exclusive,” said Melina Cordero, CBRE Americas head of retail research. “Modern, adaptive retailers have embraced e-commerce as one of several channels to best serve customers. And shoppers increasingly research products both online and in stores before making their purchases.”

That said, e-commerce still accounts for about 8.5 percent of total retail sales, according to first-quarter data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

CBRE cited several retailers with significant e-commerce revenue as part of their overall sales. They included Williams-Sonoma with about 52 percent of total revenue coming from e-commerce last year. Other names were Restoration Hardware, J.Crew, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Neiman Marcus.

CBRE said it expects traditional retailers will continue to add to their industrial footprints to meet increased fulfillment of online purchases.

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