BURBANK -- Their early uses consisted of calculating arithmetic
equations, keeping track of taxes and tallying votes.
Now, several decades after the invention of the first computers,
consumers are using their high-tech descendants to shop from their homes.
Some local merchants said this new means of purchasing is making a
dent in the amount of seasonal shoppers that are visiting their stores, a
trend economists predict will only increase.
“A lot of traditional shoppers are now online,” said CSUN professor
Allen Martin, the coordinator of the school’s Consumer Affairs Program.
“There’s definitely an impact because there are so many e-commerce
businesses that are successful. And that’s measured by the fact that
traditional retailers, like Wal-Mart and Barnes and Noble, are getting
into it. They wouldn’t be getting into it unless they already feel some
Martin said even his parents, who were traditional shoppers until
recently, have made an online Christmas list this holiday season.
“That’s hundreds of dollars that didn’t go into retail,” he said.
“Every dollar spent online is one less spent in stores.”
Brian Draper, owner and manager of Geographia Map and Travel Book
Store on Riverside Drive, said online shopping may be responsible for
somewhat lighter-than-average foot traffic in his shop, but business is
“I suspect it’s having an effect, but we still have a few weeks until
Christmas,” Draper said. “Although Christmas isn’t as crucial for us,
because our business is spread throughout the year, it has traditionally
been the busiest.”
Suzanne Accomando, the owner of Trinkets and Treasures gift shop at
Evergreen Street and Riverside Drive, said this year has been the first
that she’s noticed a slight decrease in customers.
“Business has been steady and progressive, but I think online shopping
has affected it a little,” she said. CSUN economics professor Robert
Krol said electronic commerce can never entirely replace traditional
“If it’s a repeat purchase, something you buy all the time, online
shopping would make a significant impact,” Krol said. “But if it’s
something you need to try on or look at first, then you need to go to the
Dan Millman, general manager of Media City Center Mall, agreed, saying
retail buying will never go out of style.
“I don’t see our big stores getting hurt this year,” Millman said.
“Online shopping will be an extremely important factor in the future, but
I don’t think it will replace malls or brick-and-mortar retail stores.”
But Martin said shopping via computer has yet to reach its full
“These online establishments will eventually increase the total dollar
volume of items sold,” Martin said.
Draper, however, said his travel bookstore offers shoppers something
the Internet does not.
“We have things people can’t get online,” Draper said. “We sell a lot
of globes, wall maps and picture books.”
And despite its efficiency, some merchants feel the computer monitor
will never replace the enjoyment of visiting stores and the warmth that
sometimes comes with human interaction.
“We wrap everything for free,” said Linda Adams, manager of Trinkets
and Treasures. “Our customers get individual service. People come here
because they feel comfortable.”