Death of the high street? Not a ghost of a chance…

ghost_high_streetPredictions that Covid would permanently turn British high streets into ghost towns have been blown out of the water, with almost half (47%) of all consumers saying they prefer bricks-and-mortar retail; double those who like mobile (21%) and treble those who shop on a laptop (15%).

So says new research from customer engagement specialist Emarsys among 2,000 UK consumers, which exposes that those who claimed all pandemic behaviours were here to say were talking bunkum.

It also confirms that the main “threats” to physical retail have simply not made up meaningful ground over the course of the past two years.

Not that digital does not have its place. A quarter (25%) of UK shoppers check their emails for offers first thing upon waking up, while younger audiences push the boundaries further: 23% have made purchases on Facebook Marketplace, while almost one in ten (8%) have made purchases via their TV.

On top of this, time spent across all these channels is fleeting. With consumers shopping for an average of two hours per week, retailers need to reach customers where they want to shop – be that in store or elsewhere.

This is clearly reflected in by the change in consumer preferences across industries.

In food, for example, despite the rise of online groceries, consumers are still more than twice as likely to prefer buy in-person (29%) than online (13%).

For travel purchases, consumers prefer to shop online — 20%, compared to 5% in-store. And in fashion, 19% prefer to shop online – closely followed by 15% preferring to shop in-store.

Emarsys global head of product marketing, marketing solutions, Meghann York said: “Rather than ‘taking down’ physical stores, huge investments in ecommerce over the past two years have empowered customers to pursue their perfect shopping experience.

“What’s telling about this data is that, while shoppers have their preferences, they also switch between a huge variety of channels as they need – so brands can’t skimp on preferred channels at the expense of smaller ones.

“To deliver a consistent and engaging experience, retailers must treat digital and physical retail as branches of the same strategy. Their marketers need to centralise data from every channel to meaningfully understand their customers as individuals. That’s the key to delivering campaigns that really mean something to shoppers on a one-to-one level, and that stay with them across channels.”

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