The Current and Future Landscape of Retail

Open Access
Lopatka, Thaddeus John
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Roger Michael Downs, Thesis Supervisor
  • Roger Michael Downs, Honors Advisor
  • Roger Michael Downs, Faculty Reader
  • Retail
  • Online
  • In-Store
  • Brick-and-Mortar
  • Click-and-Mortar
  • Urban
  • Suburban
  • Rural
  • Distribution
  • Sales Tax
The rapid integration of the internet into the everyday lives of consumers has raised many questions in recent years about the viability of brick and mortar retail in the future. However, in order to appropriately determine the future of retail, it is necessary to understand the present. The business of retail is linked directly to the consumer. This thesis contends that consumers living in urban, suburban, and rural areas develop different behaviors and preferences. These preferences are derived from differences in the accessibility of goods for each of these areas. Retailers are adapting their strategies to better suit consumer preferences. The distinction between online and in-store retail is becoming increasingly unclear, as many retailers use both online and physical outlets to cater to the desires of the modern consumer. This thesis examines modern consumers, in terms of their utilization of technology and the role location plays in their consumption decisions. The recent history of online retail is charted in order to chronicle its rapid ascent and its expanding impact on both consumers and in-store retailers. Various profit-maximizing strategies are discussed for both online and in-store retailers to indicate ways the process of retail may change in the future. The role played by geographic location within in-store retailing strategies is examined alongside demographic changes in the US to suggest which types of retailers will succeed in the future. Finally, issues of distribution and sales tax are addressed as factors that retail strategy.