Brick and mortar shops of all shapes and sizes have been closing in recent years. Whether it’s fashion shops, tech retailers or even department stores, most UK high streets are now missing a great deal of their well-known names.
Why? Experts cite the rise of online shopping as a key reason for a brick and mortar decline.
So, is the end really in sight for traditional shops? Read on as we explore the future of the British high street…
Household names leaving the high street
Long gone are the days of popping into Woolworths. The former high street staple closed its stores and moved to online-only sales way back in 2009. More recently, we’ve seen a range of similar big-name retailers move to online or downsize their brick and mortar operation.
In 2018 alone, 650 major-chain shops and restaurants have been closed. They include 40 store closures by Homebase, 50 by Mothercare and 60 by New Look. In the same period, the likes of Maplin, Poundworld and Toys R Us have closed all of their stores or planned to do so in the near future.
Behind the trend
The simple reason behind store closures is that the cost of running physical shops – with rent, business rates and staffing costs – simply isn’t worth it for some retailers. And while some people are quick to blame Brexit and eight years of austerity for leaving consumers with less to spend, that may not actually be the sole reason.
Despite these factors, consumer spending has remained relatively stable. What’s changed, however, is how consumers are spending that money.
In 2007, internet sales accounted for around 3-4% of total retail sales. Fast-forward ten years and they were sitting between 15-16%, peaking at 19.8% in November 2017. By 2030, these figures are expected to rise as high as 40%.
Why is e-commerce succeeding?
It’s clear that e-commerce has momentum on its side. And why not? Over the last ten years, it’s become a more attractive option to businesses and consumers. Businesses selling online don’t need to pay for a physical store, or sales assistants to staff it.
Consumers, on the other hand, benefit from fast, mobile-friendly ecommerce stores. They can browse, compare and securely purchase whenever – and from wherever – they choose.
Ecommerce ticking all the boxes
Now, ecommerce stores are even tapping into some of the brick and mortar benefits.
62% of consumers say they prefer shopping in-store because they want to try out the items before purchasing. In contrast, shopping online can sometimes leave consumers out of pocket, waiting for their return to be processed before money goes back into their account.
ASOS has eliminated that issue with a Try Before You Buy service. After ordering, customers have 30 days to try on clothes, return any unwanted items and pay for those they have kept.
Another reason people shop at physical stores is because they want to take items home immediately. “No problem,” said ecommerce stores. Over 50% of retailers offer same-day delivery, with others planning to introduce it soon.
With this success set to continue, it’s no surprise that half of the existing shops on UK high streets are set to disappear between 2020-30.
Get on board
When it comes to ecommerce versus brick-and-mortar store, it’s clear which is gaining ground. And, whether you’re an ambitious start-up or a retailer looking to move online, it’s time to get involved in the future of retail.
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