The past 18 months have shaken up retail in a profound way, with many familiar household names disappearing from the high street. Even as more people return to their workplaces, high street footfall is not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels, Retail Gazette reports.
However, most commentators agree that there is still a place for retail stores in the post-pandemic world, despite the surge in online shopping. It does however seem as though we may be shutting the door on huge flagship stores, such as the now closed Topshop on Oxford Street, London; once a weekend hub for teenagers and twentysomethings.
Small local businesses have benefitted from the move away from city centres, as people reconnected with their local communities. Niche stores that complement an online transaction, and focus on the experience that consumers can’t get online, such as excellent personal customer service, are expected to lead the way.
It seems that there has also been a generational shift in consumer choices and spending habits. Gen Z, aged 16-24, are more conscious that shopping locally reduces their carbon footprint.
Emily Shirley, general manager of Vistaprint UK, commented: “We know that supporting small businesses is increasingly important to the younger generation and our next cohort of customers, 49 per cent of 18-24-year-olds are planning to support small businesses more post-pandemic.”
CNBC reports that US teenagers, who have grown up experiencing devastating wildfires or floods on an almost annual basis, are far more environmentally conscious than previous generations. This is reflected in their shopping habits, with the article quoting research that 73% of Gen Z are willing to pay more for sustainably sourced products.
Millennials and Gen Z are also more influenced than other generations by the impact of businesses on the environment, and this will guide their purchasing choices. This points the way to a future for local stores which offer ethically and sustainably sourced products.
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