High street’s back, alright: physical stores the most popular shopping method for UK consumers

High street’s back, alright: physical stores the most popular shopping method for UK consumers

Despite worries about the future of in-store shopping, almost half of all UK consumers would rather shop in-store than by any other method. That’s according to new research from customer engagement specialist Emarsys.

The study of 2,000 UK consumers found that 47 per cent prefer bricks-and-mortar retail to any other channel, with more than twice as many preferring it to shopping via a mobile phone (21 per cent) or via laptops/computers (15 per cent).

With other hardware amounting to just 3 per cent of sales, the research suggests that the main ‘threats’ to physical retail have not made up meaningful ground over the course of the pandemic, which bodes well for the future of the high street.

However, huge value remains in digital channels. A quarter (25 per cent) of UK shoppers check their emails for offers first thing upon waking up, while younger audiences push the boundaries further: 23 per cent have made purchases on Facebook Marketplace, while almost one in ten (8 per cent) 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 2 hours per week, retailers need to reach customers where they want to shop – be that in store or elsewhere.

This is clearly reflected 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 per cent) than online (13 per cent).
  • For travel purchases, consumers prefer to shop online — 20 per cent, compared to 5 per cent in-store.
  • And in fashion, 19 per cent prefer to shop online – closely followed by 15 per cent preferring to shop in-store

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