Death of the high street – 50% of all retail could move online by 2044

on 13 September, 2018

Andy Soloman, CEO of Yomdel, discusses how long it could be before bricks and mortar retail become extinct from the Great British high street and moves completely online – and how the internet could boost your business.

Using data from the Office of National Statistics, we looked at online retail as a proportion of total retail and how this has grown over the last decade before looking at how it could continue to grow over the coming years.

We looked at how prominent internet shopping currently is and how long it could be before heading to the high street is a thing of the past, as we turn to the internet for all of our retail therapy needs.

To do this, we first looked at what proportion of retail sales is already carried out online. While this varies throughout the year, with notable spikes around Christmas for example, the prominence of online shopping has grown dramatically since 2007.

The advent of technology has turned the UK retail sector on its head providing greater value, greater convenience and greater variety, all from the comfort of our own homes. The downfall of this growing prominence of e-commerce in our shopping and spending habits is that we’re seeing more and more big names disappear from the Great British high street.

In 2007, the average number of online sales as a proportion of all retailing was just 3.3% but so far in 2018, online sales already account for 17.5% of all retail transactions. This has grown steadily over the last ten and a half years at an average increase of 1.29% a year.

Following this trend, the research shows that by 2024, a quarter of all retailing could be done online, with this hitting 50% by 2044. While it looks set to take some time longer, this could increase to three-quarters of all retailing by 2063, with the bricks and mortar retail outlet becoming instinct by 2082 as 100% of retailing moves online.

As a company that has pioneered innovation in business through technology, we welcome any development that can help improve a business, both from a professional and consumer standpoint.

This research shows how prominent technology and the internet is becoming in our day-to-day shopping habits, and further innovation to the retail sector could even see the high street struggle to compete a lot sooner than these figures suggest.

However, we believe the human element is absolutely vital in commerce - even with the best technology - and particularly when dealing with complex customer enquiries.

Rather than the high street becoming obsolete, we like to believe it will survive and evolve to deal with the changing face of consumer behaviour as people will always value that personal aspect that a physical shop provides.

What’s perhaps more important for high street retailers to consider, is how they not only pivot with the times but integrate a successful solution into their current offering to accommodate a growing preference for customers to approach and engage with their business online.

This could be through a more engaging website, web-based contact options such as automated contact forms, a well-formed FAQs section or a managed live chat service.

The internet isn’t going away, but there’s more than enough room for everyone to exist and to use it to our benefit.

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