ONS figures & how the high street should respond


As lockdown restrictions continued to ease further in April, it was great to see the high streets and shopping centres filled with shoppers as confidence levels amongst consumers started to rise. This is reflected in the ONS results just published, which show a monthly increase of 9.2% with all retail sectors reporting a fall in their proportions of online sales. The sudden shift from online shopping to physical stores was to be expected, as people exercise their new-found sense of freedom.

Whether the numbers remain steady remains to be seen. Since the pandemic, customer expectations have changed, and convenience has become a key decision maker for shoppers. They’re now used to scrolling through a website or app from the comfort of their own home, clicking a button, and then expecting a delivery imminently. Queuing up outside of stores just isn’t as appealing to some.

No matter how shopping is conducted, be it online or in physical stores, what really matters to consumers is the experience. This means, if brands want to retain customer loyalty, and ensure repeat business, they need to be offering more than just the goods they are selling, or the service they are offering. To make brands stand out from their competition they need to be enhancing the customer experience, giving their customers something else to talk about and shout about.

While merchants with physical stores will need to look to experiences to entice shoppers, online brands will need to focus on the convenience of shopping online, increased focus on mobile, and using data to tailor the customer experience as well as develop a more personal relationship with shoppers to build brand loyalty.