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Dec 10, 201512:38 PMTransportation Matters

with Debby Jackson

For retail shopping there is a new king

(page 1 of 2)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again for retailers everywhere. As some traditions endure, others are started. While online shopping has been all the rage in recent years, it has now become the norm.

Cyber Monday was a term invented about a decade ago to give Internet shopping a brand similar to Black Friday. While this year’s Cyber Monday saw a 16% jump from the previous year with shoppers spending over $3 billion, according to the Adobe Digital Index, the real news is that Cyber Monday is actually passé. It didn’t stand out that much more than the previous three days following Thanksgiving. In fact, for the first time, online shopping surpassed the (break out in a full sweat because I want to ram into every cart that stops in front of me) brick and mortar shopping during that time frame. My wife and kids have told me that I’m not an ideal companion to go shopping with.

Apparently, staying at home and shopping on your PC, tablet, or phone doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be waiting in line. Target.com saw such an incredible response to its Cyber Monday deals that it wasn’t able to keep up. The volume of traffic doubled the site’s previous record set three days prior. Some visitors received the following message:

According to ChannelAdvisor, Amazon continues to be our fave for online shopping, having increased by 21% over its 2014 Cyber Monday. That means that the 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Kenosha was busy, busy, busy. While operations started some time ago, the grand opening for this colossus that employs more than 2,000 workers was just last October. Take a look at this video to get an idea of the size, scope, and complexity of this operation.

It is breathtaking to think of the systems that have been put in place to process and “fulfill” consumers’ desires within a day or days. If you didn’t watch the video, shame on you. If you did, you would have heard the site’s general manager, Brian Urkiel, explain, “We're able to leverage 20 years of learning, algorithms, technology, into this type of fulfillment center.”

(Continued)

Dec 29, 2015 12:30 pm
 Posted by  Matt Logan

While I agree that fat new highways do attract businesses that are highway-centric, where we differ is in choosing to count the negatives of those expansions. To hear the TDA tell it, there are nothing but benefits to widening our highways, which of course means it should be a slam dunk to raise taxes and throw more general purpose revenue to the highway builders.

But unfortunately, while a few major interchanges will see an increase in economic activity, studies at the federal level suggest that giving money to the highway builders is like giving money to an Ebenezer Scrooge who refuses to listen to the ghosts of his past, present, and future.

Traffic engineers have known for generations now that expanding capacity induces greater levels of travel - and the more time children spend on the road, the more likely they will end up like Tiny Tim (In crutches or worse), as a result of a crash. In fact, the #1 cause of death for those under 35 (including active military personnel!) is automobile crashes. Unfortunately, traffic engineers do not evaluate costs like this when scoring projects, so the negatives stay conveniently hidden from public view.

There are direct costs to expanding highways as well - like the $350 million from General Purpose Revenue that TDA helped secure in addition road funding a couple of months ago. They put together a study, and touted it as demonstrating general benefits to Wisconsin's economy. The problem is, the author of the study told me the study was based on a partial equilibrium model, that does not take the full effects of highway spending into account. Without a strong economic foundation, what that $350 million means is less money for Christmas presents for years to come.

It is time for Scrooge to listen to the ghosts of his past, present, and future, and realize he needs to change his ways before all is lost.

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About This Blog

 Debby Jackson assumed the role of executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin after more than 15 years with the organization. In addition to her vast experience in association management and transportation advocacy, Jackson has a background in business. She leverages the breadth and depth of her professional experience, along with her knowledge of the membership and mission of TDA, to be a strong voice for robust transportation infrastructure in Wisconsin. Jackson started her career as a staff auditor with Price Waterhouse, which led to a series of accounting and corporate management positions with a major national retailer.

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