Why Keeping Stores Open Paid Big Dividends for These Retailers

October 4, 2018, 12:00 PM UTC
Mark Ralston—AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston—AFP/Getty Images

WHAT DO WALMART, TARGET, Kohl’s, Home Depot, Nordstrom, and Best Buy have in common? They’ve been reporting sizzling online sales in the past couple of years. What else do they have in common? They’ve barely closed any stores during that time, bucking retail’s big trend and belying the idea that their big store fleets are albatrosses that leave them helpless before the Amazon juggernaut.

While Amazon now accounts for nearly half of U.S. digital sales, these retailers are fighting for their fair share—and finding success. In their respective second quarters, Walmart U.S. and Target saw online sales rise more than 40%.

After spending billions on equipping stores to receive or ship online, and building up faster delivery capability and top-of-the-line inventory management systems, these retailers are emerging as the survivors in retail’s big reckoning, able to leverage the one thing Amazon doesn’t have just yet, even with its Whole Foods acquisition: a big network of stores.

Shoppers still like going to stores, provided they are laid out well and have products that can’t be found elsewhere. The ability to quickly pop in to fetch an online order, or return something bought online, is showing that the digital and the physical don’t have to compete but can instead feed business to each other.

A version of this article appears in the October 1, 2018 issue of Fortune with the headline “Retail Bricks Bring Online Bucks.”