Over the past fifteen years or so, the popularity of online shopping has had a dramatic effect on the retail sector in many countries around the world. In the UK, for example, the traditional British high street has changed beyond all recognition, with many of the more high-profile names disappearing altogether.
As if having to battle with online competitors wasn’t enough, the arrival of a crippling economic recession, and the subsequent slow pace at which it appears to be dissipating, has added to the difficulties. For many stores all over Europe and beyond, it may prove to be an impossible task to recover from the current malaise.
This is an extremely unfortunate situation, of course, because millions of people still like to spend their Saturday afternoons browsing the shelves of their local shops. One of the more noticeable outcomes of the recent developments has been a plethora of empty stores in even the busiest towns and cities.
Beating the recession and the web
For retail companies, the big problem was having to overcome the recession, but it has perhaps now evolved into how to fight back against the online stores. There are several reasons why so many consumers are enjoying their retail therapy from their laptops, so a quick solution is unlikely to be found.
Even the stores that offer exceptionally low prices are finding it difficult to match some of the web-based companies, and with comparison sites offering quick and accurate information about the latest bargains the odds are stacked in the Internet’s favour. Needless to say, however, it’s not just a case of locating the best deals.
The local shopping mall or high street is unlikely to ever be able to offer a more convenient service than the web. Consumers are now able to find all the choice they will ever need without having to even open the front door, and with faster and faster delivery options available even those who are in a hurry may turn to the web nowadays.
In a bid to try to attract consumers back to the stores, some malls and shopping areas have been offering incentives such as discounted or free car parking and special offers to those who shop in person. But even these little sweeteners are unlikely to convince too many people to return.
It could be, with so many nationwide stores biting the dust in recent times, that we will see more local and family-run shops returning to the retail quarters. That would at least be a step in the right direction for those people who bemoan the homogenization of the high street.
David Showell lives in the UK and is a big fan of online shopping. He works for http://www.carrentals.co.uk/.