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Showrooming shoppers cost UK High Street £18bn in sales each year

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Research reveals that bricks and mortar stores are losing out on more than £18 billion in sales each year as consumers find products instore, before leaving and purchasing online.

With 74% of UK shoppers admitting to browsing a product in-store before purchasing online, high-street stores have a fight on their hands to convert showrooming consumers into instore sales.

The findings from leading retail job board RetailChoice have revealed that while one third (32%) of shoppers are showrooming once a month, one in ten (12%) are doing so once a week. With the average consumer having spent £467 through showrooming in the last year and more than half (53%) stating they enjoy browsing products instore, even with no intention to buy, there’s lots to be gained by retailers who can encourage those potential buyers to make instore purchases.

Unsurprisingly, purchasing behaviours change between products as consumers feel the need to go instore for furniture (41%), scented products (40%) and jewellery (39%) whereas electronics (38%) and home appliances (32%) are usually bought online. In order to best address and serve these inter-changing behaviours, retailers need to understand how to maximise and utilise staff, instore experiences and initiatives to generate and maximise sales.

Despite the top ask from consumers to retail staff being for them not to be pushy (48%), Retail Choice’s research has revealed that, generally, consumers not only value retail staff but want more from them. Consumers value face to face interactions with store staff, with over half of Brits (57%) more likely to spend money in a store if staff are friendly and approachable. However, shoppers would also like retail staff to have knowledge of the products available (42%) and a willingness to listen (28%). 

Oliver Wren at RetailChoice explains: “The Christmas period is arguably the most important time of the year for UK retailers, so it’s essential that stores are able to convert as many browsing customers into happy purchasers as possible. Despite everything we hear about the ‘death of the high street’, bricks and mortar stores have a winning card to play – their workforces – who are championed by British consumers.”

Wren  adds: “What’s more, 51% of shoppers are more likely to spend instore if staff are passionate and knowledgeable. Making sure that staff are well trained and confident in talking to customers about the products available to purchase in store will help bricks and mortar stores to better meet the demands of shoppers who may well be inundated with the number of products now available instore and online.”

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association, says: “Independent retailers are incredibly well placed to tackle the effects of showrooming. By offering a level of service that consumers can’t get anywhere else, shops can advise and support customers with their purchases, getting to know them by name and offering product suggestions most suited for them.”

He concludes: “Most independent retailers run their businesses because they have a passion for what they sell, they will have tried and tested the products themselves, so there is a level of trust you can expect when shopping with them. There is a misconception that bricks and mortar retailers are more expensive than online, however, they can be incredibly competitive and you have the added benefit of taking the product home there and then, without the added cost of delivery.”

What does that mean for Christmas

Looking ahead to the upcoming Christmas period, recent RetailChoice research revealed that more than half of Christmas-celebrating Brits (55%) say they will buy the majority of their Christmas gifts this year online. These tech-savvy shoppers argue that online shopping offers better convenience (58%), the option to have shopping delivered straight to their door (46%) and there being better deals to be found online (44%).

Despite this, e-commerce brands, such as Boohoo and Wayfair, have recently announced that they will launch high-street pop up shops during the festive season this year. These brands might not be far off the mark, as two-fifths of shoppers (40%) will hit the high street for most of their Christmas gifts, as 67% of in store shoppers want to see products before purchasing and 56% purchase instore so they have the product right away.  

Men are leading the charge on weekly showrooming, with 17% practicing the trend at least once a week, compared to just 9% of women. Men also report spending more than women do, with the average male having showroomed to the value of £594.10 in the last year, compared to the £332.90 spent by women. Shockingly, this means that every pound spent by a woman equates to £1.78 spent by men.

Last year, Bloomberg reported that women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, whether that’s women making more purchases or influencing someone else’s purchase. But why are women such powerful consumers?

Interestingly, men are less likely to be popping down to pop-up stores opened by typically online stores – 46% of men state they would visit on these stores, compared to 60% of women. While this may be due to 59% of women enjoy browsing products in store, even without having any intention to buy, compared to 48% of men, the top reason women cite for wanting to visit these stores are to check the quality of products before purchasing. Men, on the other hand, are on the hunt for bargains, with men most likely to visit these stores if the products were cheaper than online – potentially signposting why they’re spending more online after having spotted a product instore at a faster rate than women.

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