Are Bricks and Mortar Stores a Thing of the Past?

A common consideration which has emerged in recent years is the effect online shopping has on traditional bricks and mortar retailers. There is no question that online shopping has made buying more convenient for more or less everything. From fashion to furniture to food we have all dabbled with online shopping at some point but how does it really compare to shopping in a store?

Global online sales are growing consistently and are estimated to make up 8.8% of total retail spending in 2018, interestingly the United Kingdom top the list of most E-Comerace sales at 18% nearly 10% more than the global average. Furthermore it is unsurprising that 37% of individuals aged between 30-39 shop online most frequently (at least once a week), as I suppose that these are the individuals who at large are balancing work, family and a social life and therefore seek the most convenient method of shopping.

I speak to people all the time who hate buying online. They complain of not being able to try things on or test the quality or simply because they prefer the thrill of going into a store, picking something up, buying at the till and swinging their shopping bags as they saunter through town.

I must admit I am in the other category of shopper. Whilst I wander in and out of the shops on the high street (what else is there to do on a lunch break?) I predominantly purchase everything at the click of a button. It could be the convenience or the ease or the fact that you don’t have to physically witness the monies dwindling away but really I think its the feeling of sheer excitement I experience when coming home to a stack of deliveries.

Don’t judge me when I say stack but that is no exaggeration let me tell you. I happen to be on first names basis with the Royal Mail delivery guy (Gareth), the MyHermes guy (Ralph) and the DHL guys (note the plural as they tend to vary). Every time I open the door I give them the ‘yes me again, don’t judge me’ look, but I don’t spend beyond my means so its not a problem. Right?

My Granny doesn’t sleep and for years she has ordered tonnes of pointless ‘stuff’ of those shopping TV channels- the ones that definitely target sleep deprived people- and up until now I have never really got it. ‘It’ being impulsive buying when bored. Now, however I fully get it. My social media has taken a back seat to my shopping apps, to the extent that I definitely refresh my Zara app more than my instagram, it just makes all those boring bus journeys or lectures go that little bit faster.

So what will become of retail stores? With studies showing that on average in the UK the amount of store closures almost doubles the amount of new stores opening, arguably this suggests our high streets as we know them are on a slippery slope. Could it be that we will eventually have high streets lined with collection and return hubs for online deliveries, retiring customer assistants for good? Or will there always be that core fan base who prefer the bricks and mortar approach for better or for worse? One things for sure, it will be interesting to see what is in store for the British high street over the next ten years.