I'm fond of repeating a shopping statistic that often surprises people. In the United States — even during the pandemic — only about $14 out of each $100 worth of stuff we buy is spent online. Amazon is responsible for roughly $5 of that.
So is Amazon a giant that dominates our internet spending or a blip in America's shopping universe? It depends on how you look at the numbers. Amazon is huge in internet sales, but puny relative to all the goods Americans buy.
Permit me to get a little nerdy about numbers. Without a doubt, Amazon is the king of online shopping in the United States. Research firm eMarketer estimated that Amazon will be responsible for more than 40% of Americans' e-commerce spending this year. The second-largest internet store, Walmart, is far behind at about 7%.
Back to my point, though, that internet shopping remains relatively small. The picture is a little different depending on how you count.
U.S. government data on online shopping plus those eMarketer estimates put Amazon at about 5% of all U.S. retail sales.
(And there's a wrinkle: A trade group for retailers recently told me that there could be inaccuracies in the government counting of shopping that blurs the line between stores and online, such as picking up online orders in person.)
Data can be a weapon. Amazon often uses a version of the 5% sales figure to counter critics who say the company is too big and powerful. But government investigations into big technology companies are looking at the behavior of Big Tech, not just their size. They're trying to answer whether companies abuse their power to get advantages over competitors and hurt us.
Amazon has had a profound influence on people's behavior, the strategies of entire industries and our communities no matter what the numbers say.
What we're seeing in real life from Amazon and beyond are big ripple effects from a small market share.
So, is Amazon big? Yes and also no. And the reality is that no matter what the numbers say, Amazon commands the attention of people, other companies and governments because it's influential in reshaping the world.
A Painful Project for France: A Museum on the Ravages of Terrorism 用血淚鑄史 法國建恐攻博物館
No other country in Western Europe has suffered as much from terrorism as France over the past decade. With more than 50 attacks that have killed nearly 300 people , the nation has borne the brunt of some of the worst attacks in Europe.
Now, France plans to memorialize this collective suffering with a new museum that will trace the development of terrorism over the ages, including the attacks on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan concert hall in Paris that have deeply shaken the country in recent years.
"The very fact that we are creating a memorial museum while the phenomenon of terrorism has no chance of vanishing in the years to come is a way of showing our capacity to take a step back," Henry Rousso, a French historian who is overseeing the project, said in an interview.
"It is a form of resistance through culture, knowledge, intelligence and the transmission of experiences," said Rousso, who also helped create the Caen Memorial Museum, which marks the Normandy landings of World War II, and the Shoah Memorial in Paris, commemorating victims of the Holocaust.
President Emmanuel Macron of France pledged in September 2018 to create a memorial museum to place the victims of terrorist attacks "at the heart of our memories." The new museum is expected to be inaugurated in the Paris area by 2027 and will aim to show how France and other terrorism-affected countries have reacted to attacks over the past 50 years, with a particular emphasis on the resilience of their people.
Rousso said the perpetrators of the attacks would also be featured in the museum. Responding to questions he has faced about whether the museum would unintentionally glorify them, he said it was important to represent them as well.