Is online shopping responsible for the demise of the High Street?
As a somewhat, ahem, mature member of the team, I remember what Christmas Shopping used to be like before I discovered the internet! Cold, nay freezing, conditions, packed shops full of coughing and sniffling people, the arm-deadening carrying of dozens of bags and finally the exorbitant car-parking charges (some things never change).
Since 1998 I may have shopped half-a-dozen times in the “real” world. You see, as a typical bloke, I hate shopping with a passion that is only matched by my partner’s love of it! I don’t understand, for example, why you would want to spend 3 hours looking for a single pair of shoes only to end up buying the first pair you tried on 2 hours 50 minutes ago! To be fair, my partner doesn’t understand how I can spend an equal amount of time looking at video games, gadgets and TV’s.
Anyway, I digress. Since 1998 I have done all of my Christmas Shopping, every single year, online. There is nothing I can’t find. Nothing I can’t get. I’ve never had any issues, nothing that needed to be sent back and nothing that wasn’t as expected.
It seems I am not alone – recently the Royal Mail has announced it is recruiting 1,000 more staff over the next 4 years in its Parcelforce business. This area of the Royal Mail is responsible for fulfilling the delivery of Amazon’s UK parcels and packages (source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/oct/30/royal-mail-jobs-parcelforce-flotation). This article also features the killer line: “online retailing…is expected to account for a quarter of all
retail spending by 2016.”
A recent article by eMarketer (source: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1009442) stated that “52% of internet users planned to buy most of their gifts on the web, compared with just 20% in shopping malls and 28% in high street shops.”
Indeed, it’s fascinating to see the above chart show you that online shopping in certain vertical markets is more popular than in-store shopping. However, shoppers will always want to try on clothes, see if that diamond ring fits on their finger, or sit down on a comfy sofa. What the graph does not take into
account though is the number of people who shop online for items (e.g. clothes, jewellery and furniture) and then decide to visit a store based on their browsing experience. How many of us have done this? I certainly have – I have done some online research for a new sofa in the past and have actively
disregarded well-known stores due to their poor web presence! It’s all about first impressions and there’s never been a better time to make that first impression online than now. The holiday season is nearly upon us and more than half of people shopping for gifts in the UK will spend the majority of
their hard-earned money on gifts bought on the internet.
This, finally, leads me to the point of this article. It’s all well and good having a super-duper, all bells and whistles web site. However, if no one knows you’re out there how can they visit your site?
Dip your toes into the online world with the leading UK SEO agency and we will make sure your on-line presence not only has the wow factor, but shoppers will be aware of your presence online.
Remember “build it and they will come” is only true in the movies….
Nick Kimberley, Click Consult.
Thanks for the comment. I think you are right - it's not solely responsible but I personally feel it's a definite contributing factor.
Hopefully when the economy does improve our high streets will once again become a bustle of activity. However, if you are a “bricks and mortar” retailer or service provider on the high street your business is likely to decrease over the coming years if you have no presence on the web. As the Guardian reported, “online retailing…is expected to account for a quarter of all retail spending by 2016.”
Its a great question. I am sure online shopping has had some impact but it cannot be solely responsible for the demise of the high street. I think volatile economic conditions of today is more responsible than any other factor. I also think that once the economy improves, high streets will start to do well again.