According to the Abacus 2006 Multi-Channel Annual Trend Report, the major retail markets in rural and urban areas differ in their growth and decline by channel. The most recent report showed that call center/mail order purchases represented 65% of orders in rural areas, with 35% of those orders placed online. This compares to 45% and 35% catalog vs. Web orders, respectively, for urban areas. Because rural locations typically have fewer stores, it is not surprising that these areas were more likely to purchase through call centers and traditional mail order channels than in retail locations.
The performance of these major retail marketss also differed according to geographic region. Due to an aging U.S. population and widespread relocation to the south, the top major retail markets for online sales growth are similarly located in southern states with growth rates of more than 50% for online purchases. Hurricane affected areas such as New Orleans helped boost southern major retail markets experiencing high online growth, as did Florida, with six of the top 20 growing online areas.
“It is important for retailers to understand the dramatic differences that exist in the channel trends for all geographic areas in order to plan their marketing strategies accordingly,” said Elisa Krause, Ph. D., vice president of strategic accounts and analytics for Lafayette, CO-based Abacus. “Retailers can leverage data, such as purchase behavior data, for greater insight into their performance in a given major retail markets against their competitive set and have a greater understanding of how to invest marketing dollars, both in stores and other channels.”