The economy is doing so poorly that even e-tail is flopping around like a goldfish out of its tank.
Market watcher comScore
Don't hold out for salvation beyond that, as Web-based retail dies beyond gift-card purchases once conceivable shipping deadlines pass.
This is not good. The malls have been understandably empty given the soft economy, but weren't consumers supposed to flock online to find huge deals?
One can't take a third-party source like comScore as gospel, but the cracks were already starting to show. Online jeweler Blue Nile
Analysts see companies like online auctioneer eBay
Amazon should outperform the industry. Its wildly successful Prime membership program that offers expedited shipping is a viral winner. Once you pay Amazon $79 for a year of free two-day shipping in the Prime program, it encourages shoppers to lean on the site whenever a purchase decision is being made.
This doesn't mean that Amazon is a money-printing mint. It issued holiday quarter guidance of 6% to 23% in revenue growth for the current quarter. That doesn't sound too shabby, but the midpoint of its profit guidance calls for a dip in operating profitability. Oh, and that guidance was issued more than two months ago. The economy certainly hasn't improved since then.
Is this the end of the line for e-tail? Is the migration over? Real-world retail is also doing horrendously poorly, so let's wait until the general retail economy bounces back before burying the e-commerce miracle to rest.
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Blue Nile is a former Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. Overstock.com and Blue Nile are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. eBay and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been shopping online for about as long as Amazon.com has been in business. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.