When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and offline retail stores were forced to close temporarily, consumers had no choice but to shop online. It was believed to be the end of brick-and-mortar retailing as consumers were becoming increasingly accustomed and comfortable with the convenience of online shopping.  

However, fast forward two years, physical retail is continuing to recover from the massive Covid-19 blow as consumers are out in high streets again, looking for exciting shopping experiences.

PWC reports, 3,888 stores opened in the UK in H1 of 2022, that’s 21 per day. On the other hand, only 34 stores closed per day which is significantly less than the dramatic 61 store closures per day in H1 2020.

According to a survey by Mood Media, 30% of UK consumers are shopping in-store more frequently now than two years ago, and 40% are shopping in-store at the same level. This only leave 30% of shoppers who have found other channels to shop through.

Brick-and-mortar shopping will never die: 46% of consumers enjoy getting a product instantly in store; 34% use stores to discover new products; and 28% say shopping is a leisure activity with friends and family.

In fact, PWC’s report suggests retailers should merge shopping and leisure, focussing on the experiential aspect of shopping as the leisure sector is leading in post-pandemic improvement. PWC and Mood Media both agree that shopping experience significantly impacts where consumers shop, how often, and how much they spend – 72% of shoppers say they spend more time in a store if the experience is pleasant and 82% return.

Retailers need to create an emotional connection with consumers through personalisation and human interactions, which can only be fully achieved in person, in a physical store. This is what modern consumers are looking for from brick-and-mortar stores.

Consumers also expect stores to bring the convenience of the digital in store. Whether that’s interactive screens, self-service payments, or AI try on technology, access to the same, if not better, search and discovery tools as online stores will improve in-store experience and keep consumers coming back.

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