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Brick-and-Mortar Shopping Comes Roaring Back…For Now

1 Mins read

In its recently released Global Retail E-Commerce Forecast, 2024 To 2028, research giant Forrester reported that global retail e-commerce sales reached $4.4 trillion last year, up from $1.3 trillion in 2014. That means 20% of global retail sales now take place online. Forrester forecasts that by 2028, that total will rise to $6.8 trillion, reaching 24% of global retail sales.

But that doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar stores will vanish. In fact, Forrester says they’ll “continue to play a significant role,” more than many people think. Physical stores will claim $21.9 trillion of the $28.7 trillion (around 76%) in worldwide retail sales in 2028.

This may seem surprising because we’re constantly hearing about store closures and how e-commerce is going to take over retail. Counterintuitively, the COVID-19 pandemic had a positive effect, as consumers who couldn’t shop in-store for several years were excited to return to physical stores when cleared to do so.

As Coresight Research analyst Bryan Gildenberg told WWD, “For all the noise about retail apocalypses, store chains since the end of COVID are on a net opening front in the U.S.”

However, Forrester expects that this year, “online sales will regain momentum from shopping offers and generative AI initiatives.” WWD says, “This effort is already well underway, with a Nvidia survey in January revealing that 98% of retailers plan to invest in the tech over the next year and a half.”

Forrester believes part of the bounce back of global e-commerce sales will be driven by:

  • New and mature sales channels, including “the rise of online marketplaces, social commerce, online grocery buying, click-and-collect services, quick commerce, livestream selling, and direct-to-consumer commerce.”
  • More innovative payment solutions, like digital wallets and account-to-account (A2A) transfers.

While the report focuses on global sales, WWD says in the U.S., “e-commerce sales are expected to reach $1.6 trillion in four years, up from $1 trillion in 2023, accounting for 28% of all retail sales” in the country.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Twitter @Rieva, and visit her website to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free Currents newsletter.

Retail stock image by Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

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