There's an interesting story in The Wrap on how some of the chi-chi boutiques on the Westside are closing their brick-and-mortar operations and becoming Web-only retailers. I'm not sure this can be called a trend - tracking these kinds of businesses is next to impossible and The Wrap post doesn't quantify its findings - but it's worth keeping an eye on.
"With a store, you can only reach a limited amount of people, but the web opens our doors to customers throughout the whole country, even around the world," said Devon Leigh, a jewelry designer whose boutique opened on Third Street in 2003 but closed last March. "Our online business is growing every month, so I believe it will eventually surpass what we were selling in the store." Her website, Leigh says, now enables potential shoppers to immediately locate and purchase pieces from her collection they might see in magazines like Elle or on celebrities like Jessica Simpson, who was wearing a pair of Leigh's hammered-gold earrings during a concert after which the media criticized her weight.
Well all right, but much of the attention these retailers received was based on celebrities making appearances at the brick and mortar locations (and having paparazzi take note). That gets the merchandise in the public eye and becomes a selling point once the items are available elsewhere. Getting that same attention on just the Web is a dicey proposition.