With the massive increase in online shopping, does this mean the end of our High Streets? Internet retailers have benefitted from a huge surge in purchases from customers who prefer the convenience of being able to shop from the comfort of their own homes, but there are still pros and cons to this way of buying.
Could this shift in shopping habits be due to our younger generation growing up with the internet at their finger tips, or are we all taking advantage of the ease and speed of this facility?
There is no doubt that many of us now prefer to use online shopping for groceries, banking, booking and researching holidays etc. but can this experience match that of visiting a bricks and mortar shop? Some people like to combine researching online, followed by a trip to the shops to take advantage of the expertise offered, and to be able to touch and feel the product. Others prefer to visit the High Street first and then search for the best deal.
The fact is that, although online retailers are enjoying huge popularity in this way of spending, most purchases are still made from actual shops. It seems we enjoy the whole experience of visiting a physical location, whether it be our local convenience store, the High Street or shopping mall. Studies show that many of us still like to “go shopping” and take part in other activities, particularly eating out, while enjoying our day at the shops. It’s not surprising then to know that the vast increase in the number of coffee shops and eateries in our towns goes hand in hand with this phenomenon.
Stores can offer us a sensory experience. We can try on the clothes, smell the perfume, test out the latest gadget, at the same time as being surrounded and seduced by the wares on offer. To be immersed in the whole “feel” of a brand can be very comforting and inclusive. Sales staff are trained to be very good at welcoming customers and offering advice, leading to sales. The actual monetary transaction followed by being given a pleasing carrier bag displaying our brand of choice is another appealing aspect of this process. It’s now even possible to use the High Street for choice and by use of a smart phone, quickly compare prices of the same item in various outlets.
For those of us who either dislike the High Street experience or haven’t got time for this activity, there’s a wealth of online shopping options, accessed from our lap top, tablet or phone. There are also plenty of comparison sites to help us make the best and most economical choice. It’s easy to see at a glance what’s available, in what sizes and colours, and make a swift, easy purchase. Many online retailers now offer a next day delivery service, even if you’re ordering the night before! There are many deals to be had, often only available online, and once registered with a company, loyalty offers and discounts are often given. Some retailers will even store your preferences and make you aware of new products you might be interested in.
And of course, online shopping is essential for those specialised, niche items that are not sold from the big, generic stores that dominate our High Streets: collectables, boutique collections, unusual items (and of course we have to add sun protective swimwear here, which is our speciality). There are new and interesting designers coming along through the recession who cannot get a foot in the door with the big stores and who cannot possibly afford to set up shop on their own. A boutique online shop is the obvious way to get these designers to the market and the more they sell and promote themselves, the higher they rank up the search engines and the easier they are to find by the hunters of the unusual and new.
One thing’s for sure – we’re very much a nation of shoppers, however we choose to make that purchase!
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