Physical stores are still appealing to under 35s

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A new study has highlighted the importance of physical stores in driving retail sales in the UK.

Of the £313bn spent by UK consumers in 2015, £278bn (89%) “touched” a store through physical sales, click & collect and online sales browsed in store, according to Verdict Retail and British Land.

The survey on shoppers’ behaviour also found that under 35s were using physical stores the most – 81% of sales to 16- to 24 year-olds and 80% of sales to 25- to 34-year olds are made in store rather than online.

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Verdict and British Land surveyed 30,000 consumers to measure the role of the physical store in an omnichannel age, identifying factors that influence online shoppers and how they buy across channels.

Women use click & collect more than men, and engage more with stores overall as part of their shopper journeys, according to the study.

Similarly, Londoners are more likely to touch a store when they shop compared with the rest of the UK.

This not only reinforces the importance of physical stores today, but also indicates their likely future importance. Far from showing a pure-play generation of young shoppers, the research reaffirms physical shopping’s role as a recreational and social activity that is here to stay.

Patrick O’Brien, content director for Verdict Retail, commented: “The prevalence of showrooming is resulting in a number of retailers repurposing their physical stores, utilising them to display products and promote online sales rather than just to fulfil immediate sales. We expect this trend to grow as stores continue to migrate to the showcase model.”

Ben Dimson, head of retail business development for British Land, said:“The True Value of Stores research reveals a number of thought-provoking insights, such as the importance of stores for under 35s, and the varied role of the store across sectors.

“We expect to see continued demand for physical stores from a variety of operators, and this research helps to cement their place within retailers’ plans in an omnichannel age. Even online pure-plays are dipping their toe into the world of physical, taking pop-up space or temporary units. In doing so, they benefit from the ‘halo effect’ that stores offer – generating online sales and strengthening customer relationships.”

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