Over 8,700 store closures in 2021 – what retailers should consider to stay relevant


More than 8,700 chain store closures in 2021 highlights just how acutely the high street has been hit by the pandemic, from lockdowns, to consumer caution, to supply chain disruption. Physical high street stores have felt the impacts of the last 18 months even more than their digital peers due to their exposure to all the costs of store upkeep and generally being less flexible to adapt to shifting consumer behaviours.

The pandemic taught consumers the value of omnichannel services such as buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), curbside, and retailer apps in facilitation of brick and mortar. As such, to ensure the best possible customer experience moving forward, brands need to find the most balanced designs for physical stores to support consumers’ online-offline hybrid behaviours. There’s still a lot of space for retailers to nail their BOPIS and curbside accommodations.

Additionally, communication with shoppers requires more transparency and frequency. With consumers less able to just pop into a physical shop, the connection with the retailer must be even more reliable. A more service-oriented strategy, with an emphasis on communication, facilitates that.

To keep brick and mortar popular, shoppers will need to be assured that they can get exactly what they’re looking for right when they want it. Timeliness should always be the advantage physical has over digital. Further, making consumers feel comfortable and safe to fully enjoy the experiential aspects of brick and mortar will be key. Keeping crowds to a minimum and hiring enough dedicated staff to provide premium, attentive customer service will ensure shoppers feel they’re getting something special and unique out of brick and mortar.