Retailers in the UK might be well aware of the importance of e-commerce but they need to put more effort into developing their online shopping platforms, as more consumers are likely to reduce the amount of money spent in-store and increase their shopping online in 2012.
This is suggested by a new study from Verdict Research, which reveals that this year online shopping spend will surpass in-store spending by 1.4%.
According to the authors of the study, withdrawal from the high street market is a long-term trend, driven not just by the convenience provided by e-commerce, but also by consumers’ preference to shop in out-of-town shopping centres.
The research reveals that over the course of this year spending in town centres will drop to £117,643m, a 1.4% fall on last year. In contrast, online retail spending over the past five years has soared by 113%.
Commenting on these figures, Carly Syme, senior retail analyst at Verdict Research, says that high street retailers have taken the hardest blow since the start of the economic downturn in 2008 and it is likely that the trend will continue. Town centre spending has been influenced by falling sales in categories like books, films and music, as consumers try to optimise their budgets, she adds.
In order to recover part of their significance, town centres need to adapt to a new function – focusing on e-commerce support by offering click and collect points and providing safe drop boxes where consumers can take their online orders, while emphasising entertainment options, Syme suggests.