RS Radar: Future of Brick-and-Mortar Stores Looks Bright
For many years now, ever since the advent of online shopping, people have predicted doom and gloom for brick-and-mortar stores. It’s true retail shopping has increasingly become digital. The much-predicted Retail Apocalypse that was supposed to pretty much wipe out brick-and-mortar stores has taken several casualties. However, even though the digital movement got a significant boost from the 2020 pandemic, guess what? Roughly 80% of total U.S. retail sales are still made in brick-and-mortar stores. Now, shoppers cooped up by the pandemic quarantines are starting to flock back to the stores.
Research from McKinsey & Company shows that 40% of U.S. shoppers are consistently optimistic about returning to the checkout lanes and about 50% expect to treat themselves to non-essential purchases such as apparel, beauty and electronics. Another study shows that visits to brick-and-mortar stores have increased by 28.5% since the start of the year. Two big reasons for the increasing number of brick-and-mortar shoppers are the growing numbers of people being vaccinated and the distribution of CARES Act relief checks. Many people want to get out and live life again and shopping is a large part of that. This is all great news for merchants especially with Independent Retailers Month set for July.
Physical, in-person shopping offers experiences e-commerce can’t. Consumers like to touch, feel and try out the goods they want to buy. It’s hard to try on a shirt, skirt, or pair of shoes on a smartphone or laptop.
Brick-and-mortar stores that weathered the dramatic shift in shopping preferences in 2020 – figures show e-commerce increased by 44% – along with those that experienced increased sales – the home improvement sector grew 19.4% – are faced with a much different retail environment that they had just over 18 months ago. A large part of the new environment is digital improvements and enhancements to the world of physical stores.
“Consumers expect more from merchants today. Due in part to the evolution of retail, which now offers more personalized choices from e-commerce companies, shoppers want similar features from their neighborhood stores,” says Dan Nesmith, president of Paladin Data Corporation, a leader in retail management technology. “Stores need to embrace new ideas and all technology offers.”
Studies show that digital offerings – websites to review products and services, along with programs such as buy online, pickup in-store, and curbside pickup – are important to today’s shopper when scouting brick-and-mortar purchases. The following survey numbers highlight the importance of brick-and-mortar stores having strong digital offerings.
- 81% of customers search online before they purchase in a brick-and-mortar store
- 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business with a mobile-friendly website
- 60% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly from local search results
- 50% of people visit a business’s brick-and-mortar store within a day of visiting its website
- Use of curbside pickup increased 259% year over year
In recognition of Independent Retailer Month, we’re providing a link to a story that celebrates brick-and-mortar retail and its encouraging outlook. Rethink Retail offers its take on what the future of brick-and-mortar stores looks like. We think you’ll find it enlightening.