Despite perpetual headlines discussing the challenges facing brick and mortar retail, the high street is continuing to flourish, with retailers seeing many customers eagerly return to their shopping habits following the lockdowns of previous years.
There are a number of changes occurring across the high street and much of the renewed interest may not be for the reasons you think. Generation Z, for example, are playing a significant role in the return to the high street, utilising social media to their advantage. Using online tools and e-commerce platforms to promote high street sales over digital ones may seem counter-intuitive. However, evidence shows that a growing number of shoppers prefer to visit shops over websites.
One of the fundamental reasons as to why a new generation of shoppers are taking to the high streets over digital shopfronts is because of the experience. The process of shopping online leaves little in the way of content to share, whereas brick and mortar retailers, especially those that invest in remarkable shop shelving and host pop-up events, give customers the opportunity to engage and immerse themselves when shopping.
This could be a limited-time event, one that allows customers to meet a celebrity or try a new product. Or, it can be something related to the brand, such as Nespresso hosting coffee-tasting workshops or Apple leading software classes.
For retailers, going the extra mile to create an aesthetically pleasing shop space also means encouraging shoppers to experience a brand. Bespoke and stylish displays lead to customers sharing images online, encouraging others to visit via word of mouth. This means ensuring that every detail of a shop layout, from screw head covers to mannequins, is photo-ready!
Interacting with a human over a machine and holding an object over viewing an image are two important reasons as to why Gen Z are visiting shops more often. There is a greater tangibility when visiting a retailer, one that offers a more memorable and considered experience over shopping online. It’s the same reason vinyl music sales are at an all-time high despite the ubiquity of streaming services.
Return On Investment
From a retail perspective, there is a great opportunity to establish a business on the high street. As overheads become more affordable, new retailers, especially those with an established online presence, are finding it financially straightforward to bring their business to the high street, even with the inclusion of staffing and rental costs.
Perhaps surprisingly, click-and-collect sales have driven individuals back to the high street. While online sales coupled with delivery was thought to have initially lured shoppers away from the high street, the delivery and wait times are actually leading sales back to brick and mortar retail.
This is because, when faced with a one to three-day delivery time or the ability to pick up an item in store on the same day, over half of shoppers will prefer to have their products in a shorter period of time, leading them to visit the high street.