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Expert warns ‘one day of queues does not make a summer’

by David Jinks MILT
15th Jun 20 4:40 pm

Today’s queues outside stores such as Primark do not mean the crisis is over for the High Street, warns the home delivery expert ParcelHero.

It fears streets will fall quiet again by Wednesday and says any retailer with both shops and a website must swiftly integrate sales or lose their stores for ever.

Despite today’s long queues outside newly reopened stores, the home delivery expert ParcelHero is forecasting that the crowds will fall away by Wednesday, as stores remain a stressful environment and home shopping proves too strong a habit to quit.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says today might see significant queuing to satisfy pent-up demand, but this is likely to be short-term and doesn’t mean there will ever be a return to  ‘business as usual’ on the High Street.

It’s heartening to see people queuing to visit their favourite stores in some towns and cities; they have been closed a long time. In the longer term, however, we don’t think this is a viable trend. It’s our belief that, by Wednesday, town centres and malls will be relatively quiet.

On 3 March, weeks before lockdown, we predicted that e-commerce’s market share would double to 40% of all retail sales ‘if the coronavirus becomes an epidemic in the UK’. This proved accurate as e-commerce sales soared by 60% in May under lockdown.

Now people of every age group have discovered the convenience of home shopping for groceries, clothing and non-essentials, and 70% of consumers are concerned about returning to High Street stores.

‘Store staff have to be on top of their game during this crunch week for retailers, ensuring the shopping environment is welcoming but also safe. Shoppers making the effort to travel to a shop must feel secure, but also have confidence that store workers offer significant expertise, adding unique value to a personal visit.

Retailers should be under no illusion about the challenges being faced. Despite today’s queues at some bargain clothing stores, research from EY reveals 80% of consumers will feel uncomfortable trying on clothes in-store even where it is permitted. That’s bad news for fashion retailers. Don’t forget: ensuring a good fit and checking the colour and quality of potential purchases are compelling reasons why people prefer to visit fashion shops rather than buy online.

That is why it is essential every retailer that has the luxury of running a store and a website must take this opportunity to improve their omnichannel services.

It’s vital retailers make the most of both their web and town centre presence by encouraging services such as Click & Collect. Click & Collect gives certain shoppers, such as the elderly, a reason to venture out of the house, thereby driving up footfall. It means people can have the social experience of visiting a store, knowing that their item will be waiting for them and that their journey hasn’t been in vain. In some retail sectors, such as clothing and footwear, Click & Collect shoppers actually spend 53.2% more when collecting items in store.

A balanced e-commerce-physical store approach, ensuring shops compliment online services, will hopefully lead to a longer-term, sustained improvement for the High Street, even if today’s queues do prove to be short-term. We believe Saturday will be a more reliable barometer of how resilient the High Street will prove to be.

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