As footfall declines further...

Shops find ways to tackle online threat

Shop going online

Some stores have gone online, while others are adopting new platforms 

Retailers are the learning how to embrace the internet in the battle to lure shoppers.

Many are using a range of platforms to provide customers with a range of buying options.

The trend emerged as the decline in footfall on the high street quickened in the last quarter, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium whose director David Lonsdale said almost a quarter of non-food retail sales are now purchased online.

“Retailers are increasingly adept at harnessing the internet to get through to consumers who might not have time to travel to the shops,” he said.

“Indeed those retailers with a strong multichannel offer – allowing customers to shop in-store, at home and on the move – have tended to do well of late as the development of our digital economy continues at pace.

“This is a period of significant tumult for the retail industry, with profound changes in shopping habits at a time of sluggish demand and rising cost pressures. These structural, economic and regulatory changes show few signs of abating.”

Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director at data compiler Springboard said: “It is clear that the challenges facing bricks and mortar retailing are continuing to build.”

She said retail parks were adapting to the changes in the sector by actually benefiting from online spending and offering hospitality to lure shoppers.

“Retail parks clearly now fulfil a wider role for shoppers; yes, they are convenient and functional shopping locations, but are buoyed by the continuing growth in online spending.

“Not only are they efficient click and collect points, but their attraction to shoppers is enhanced by a wider offer, embracing hospitality.

“Herein lies the lesson for stores in urban locations of high streets and shopping centres; their longevity is contingent upon their ability to embrace all steps of consumers’ path to purchase, which implicitly encompasses a first class click and collect experience rather than the current poor experience delivered by many stores.”

Scotland’s shops suffered a ninth consecutive monthly decline in footfall with the cold snap contributing to the stay-away shoppers.

The fall in customers hitting high streets and malls was countered by an improvement in the shop vacancy rate, though this was aided by pop-ups and temporary lets in the lead up to Christmas.

  • The town centre vacancy rate for Scotland was 9.2% in January 2018, an improvement on the rate of 10.5% in October 2017. However, this is above the average vacancy rate for the UK, which dropped to 8.9% in January 2018 (from 9.3% in October 2017).
  • Footfall fell by 4.6% year-on-year in Scotland in January, a minor improvement on the previous month of 4.7% but a deeper decline than the three-month average of -3.9%, and the twelve-month average of -1.1%.
  • Footfall in shopping destinations the High Street and Shopping Centres fell by 5.8% year-on-year, but remained unchanged relative to a year ago in retail parks.

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