South Dakota retailers adapt to continued shift to online shopping

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A new nationwide survey revealed nearly 3 out of 4 Americans are shopping online more now because of COVID-19. 88% said they’ll continue shopping online even after the pandemic.

“I think our consumers in this country have been trained because they had to learn to shop online,” Sticks and Steel owner Terri Schuver said.

Schuver has had an online store presence for about a decade now, but since the pandemic, she’s really increased her online inventory.

“That was obviously a project in April that we decided to tackle so we’ve added a lot more of what you see in the stores now on the website,” Schuver said.

It’s helped to double her online sales.

“I think that the increase has come from shipping to places all over the country,” Schuver said. “Most of those are from people not currently in our database or our customer base.”

But over the past couple of months, her in store traffic has also returned.

“Our in store sales are about what they were last year if I look at the last 45 days or so,” Schuver said.

You can see similar statistics all over Sioux Falls. South Dakota Retailers Association Executive.

“If you look at the numbers for July now Sioux Falls is up about 2.67% year over year,” South Dakota Retailers Association Executive Director Nathan Sanderson said.

Sanderson says sales tax revenue is up across the city, even as online sales increase, all thanks to the state’s 2018 Wayfair Supreme Court case that opened the door to collecting online sales tax.

“I think that if South Dakota had not taken that step, South Dakota’s sales tax receipts on a state and local level would look far differently today,” Sanderson said.

Sanderson says businesses all over the state continue to beef up their online presence to help capture the customers that have now moved online.

“A lot of really small retailers are seeking online options for their own businesses now, the grocery store in Mobridge offers online options for their own businesses now,” Sanderson said. “You’ve got book stores right now where you can go on Facebook, order a book and they will deliver it to your car curbside.”

Both Sanderson and Schuver say that convenience will likely keep people shopping online for years to come.  

“We had to learn and now its like, woah, it’s pretty easy, I think I’ll do that again, and that’s okay,” Shuver said. “I hope retailers take advantage of that and I hope consumers take advantage of that.”

While the increase in online sales has led to some recent closures of retail stores such as the Gap and Banana Republic at the Empire Mall, South Dakota retailers say there’s still a big market for people who want to continue shopping in stores, so they expect both options to be around for a long time to come.

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