Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, retailers in states like Montana are doing whatever they can to survive the onslaught on online retailers like Amazon.

Director of the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Patrick Barkey had some insights into the competition for holiday dollars.

“Black Friday has traditionally been the big day for ‘brick and mortar’ retailers, when they open their doors early and try to get themselves into the black for the year, but online retailers have changed all that,” Barkey said. “In Montana, we see the changing environment for retail from the data. For example, when you look at the payroll growth inn the state of Montana, it is much lower than it should be. Then, go to the state of Washington, and you see retail payrolls exploding, with growth above 20 percent, which is huge, and in Montana it’s one and two percent.”

Barkey said retailers must concentrate on what they can offer that online retailers cannot.

“They have to offer something different,” he said. “You have to be cognizant of what you can do that online merchants can’t do, such as trying on clothes to impulse shopping. I think eventually, there’s going to have to be a somewhat hybrid arrangement, which you’re starting to see with companies like Wal-Mart who have a ‘brick and mortar’ presence, but are blending in with online sales where customers can pick up their purchases in the store.”

Barkey said the big winners will be the consumers.

“What’s happening right now has been a boon to consumers, especially in a state like Montana, with so much physical distance between where we live and where we want to go,” Barkey said.

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