The Signal: As lockdown orders in many states have eased, brick-and-mortar retailers are hopeful that business will begin to recover. But the numbers tell a different story: An estimated 100k retail stores are expected to close over the next 5 years. That’s triple the number of stores that closed during the last recession.

In dollar terms, brick-and-mortar retail sales are on course to fall ~14% from 2019 to 2020, to $4.2T. This is compared to an 18% increase in ecommerce sales over the same period.

Historically, 3 roadblocks have prevented ecommerce from eclipsing brick-and-mortar shopping: tradition, pricing, and the in-store experience. The recent pandemic, coupled with innovations on ecommerce platforms such as Coupang’s “dawn delivery” (order by midnight, and it’ll be on your doorstep by 7am the next day) and Amazon Prime’s seamless same-day delivery, beg the question: Why would anyone want to go to a physical retail store again?