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Is this the end: what's killing retail?

With shops closing everyday causing job losses, what is the future of retail?


2018 has been a difficult year for retailers and retail jobs. There have been many cutbacks, store closures, job losses and even famous high street shops having to close down altogether. But what is actually killing retail?

Can online shopping be to blame? A study, carried out by the Royal Mail, found that ‘over a three month period online shoppers claimed to make 80% of purchases online.’ It is much more convenient to purchase something online; you don’t have to deal with unhelpful staff, you don’t have to queue to pay, you can find the cheapest price much easier across different websites, and you can buy things from the comfort of your own home, or out on the go!

However, according to a study, carried out by Vista Retail Support, ‘59% of UK consumers surveyed say they prefer to find and buy goods in person, with 30% of all shoppers using shops to showroom before buying online.’ So online shopping alone isn’t to blame, because people still enjoy the in-store experience.

Employment in the UK is at an all-time high, according to research, however there is also evidence that shows that people’s wages are not matching this growth. Unfortunately, this means that people’s disposable income is low and savvy shoppers will search for the right product at the cheapest possible price.

Online shopping, slow wage growth and consumer debt are all problems facing the retail world, however, there is a more dominant factor that is causing retailers to struggle; the ways in which consumers spend their money and time. Consumers are spending more time on social media and more time and money on leisure, travel, eating out and technology.

The world is constantly changing, especially in the digital era; everything is fast-paced and shops need to bear this in mind. Consumers clearly want the physical aspect of shopping but what they are currently receiving isn’t aligning with their values and needs.

So what does it mean for the future of retail? According to Peter Cooper, director of UK shopping centres for Hammerson, shopping centres and town centres need to provide experiences that can’t be enjoyed at home. Incorporating experience based activities in shopping centres will help to re-establish the relationship between consumer and physical shopping.

As an employee or employer you may worry about the future of retail in these uncertain times, however, hope is not all lost; there are some saviours in this world. Co-Op recently bought 4 Waitrose shops which meant they saved dozens of jobs.

If you are looking for employment and/or need additional support and advice, check out our Twin Employment and Training website and contact our team today.