Brick & mortar retail in decline, how should we respond?


Steve Berry, Managing Director at EMIRAT, explores how the promotional marketing industry can respond to the decline in brick & mortar retail and movement towards online shopping. 

First we learnt the high street is in crisis, now is seems shopping centres are under threat too.  In an article published in the Telegraph in January, it was reported that 30 million Brits (58%) will use smart devices to shop this year, an increase of 12 million (66%) compared to 2018.

It cited data from BRC Springboard showing footfall declined by 3.9% in December, despite shops offering huge discounts. The article then surmised that the popularity of smartphone shopping is driving this decline, particularly with the introduction of such facilities as Apple Pay and one click purchasing.

This is obviously bad news for jobs, as retailers will be forced to downsize their physical foot print, making way for more investment online.  It’s also not great news for shopping centre owners whom will be left with a growing number of empty units and an ever dropping rental income.

There is also the small issue of peripheral purchase. In-store, the tills are littered with goodies to tempt you as you wait in line to pay, but now retailers have the problem of trying to recreate the same circumstance online, so as not to miss out on this additional revenue. Amazon cleverly replicate this by showing you what other purchasers have bought in conjunction, or anything that is compatible with what you’re buying. For example, if you are buying a clothing top they show you bottoms. If it’s an electrical device they show you power adaptors and accessories.

Retailers will obviously have to adapt and in-store offers will become online offers. But is this bad news for the promotional marketing industry? In actual fact online purchasing lends itself more to promotions, with promotional services companies linking websites seamlessly to the online store. The shopper simply need click through from the online store or app to enter!

In the short term though, how to do we help our retail colleagues address this trend and increase footfall into shopping centres again? The simple answer is through promotions. Give people a reason to go, and more than that, a reason to purchase there and then. As opposed to using it as an opportunity to browse for what they will buy online later, probably at a slight discount!

EMIRAT is a promotional risk transfer company servicing the marketing and advertising industries worldwide. EMIRAT can enable you to deliver events and promotions that create impact and drive consumers to purchase without the financial risks that can jeopardise your bottom line.