Shoppers are set to do up to a third of their spending online this Christmas – but most will still be buying from stores, especially as they look to bag last-minute bargains next Saturday, according to predictions from the Centre for Retail Research and Vouchercodes.co.uk.
That could add up to a last-minute uplift for high street trading in what has proven to be a highly challenging run up to Christmas this year. Mike Ashley, chief executive of Sports Direct International said yesterday that November trading had been “unbelievably bad” while Bonmarche spoke of “unprecedented” conditions that were worse, said chief executive Helen Connelly, than the 2008 recession. Connelly, for one, puts poor trading down to the continued uncertainty around Brexit.
Underlying this, and in the longer-term, there’s a shift further online that’s being felt by retailers from Ocado to Bonmarché and Sports Direct, who all had strategic updates out this week. Ocado is benefiting as shoppers place more ecommerce orders, but Bonmarché and Sports Direct are both feeling the effect as when shoppers do buy, they’re staying away from stores and spending more of their cash online.
Further afield, French supermarket Carrefour has tweaked the way it balances stores and online: it’s linking both channels in its new Paris convenience stores, limiting its in-store range – and store size – while offering a wider choice of products over the internet.
That’s a response to a shift that has been steady and is now picking up speed, as shoppers opt not to abandon stores but to buy in the way that best suits them at any given moment. That might be online, and it might be in-store: what matters is that the choice is available. It also means, as a side-effect, that shopping is set to be a good deal more pleasant this year for those that do opt to choose their gifts in person.
It’s a shift that’s also reflected in today’s guest comment, where Ralf Gladis of Computop considers the changing shape of omnichannel payments.