The high street may be in decline, but online sales are booming
The pandemic has been tough on the high street but with online shopping more popular than ever, certain sectors are booming.
Creating sanctuary at home
Unsurprisingly, it’s our homes where we’re lavishing attention and our cash. According to the Office of National Statistics, the time Brits dedicated to home improvements during the UK’s first lockdown increased by 147%. Payment provider Dojo’s research revealed similar findings with homeware and soft furnishing sales soaring as we all sought to transform our homes into sanctuaries.
Dojo found that the home improvements sector outgrew all others, with sales up by 500% since the start of the pandemic last March. Mail-order catalogue companies, placed second in the fastest growing pandemic industries, enjoyed a 350% growth. Dojo’s Jon Knott believes the challenges have led to ‘rapid consumer shifts’ with certain sectors thriving: “A lot of retailers have pivoted in order to survive, with some understandably being unable to do so. But we’ve also seen other businesses thrive during this time. Our findings confirm that, whilst it may have been a tough year for everyone, many industries will come out of the other side, with some maybe even stronger than ever in 2021.”
Consumers shop virtually
Whilst once we trawled the high street, today’s shoppers are much more likely to surf the internet. Streets may be empty of shoppers but the growing numbers of delivery vans, bikes and even electric scooters transporting shoppers’ internet buys are firm evidence of a shift in buying behaviour.
Visiting a shopping centre had become almost a leisure activity but there’s no denying that the internet offers greater choice, and greater bargains, with many retailers promising same day deliveries for instant satisfaction.
Will life ever return to ‘normal’?
Online sales may be booming but will it be back to the high street once the pandemic is over and if we do go back what will it look like? Many high streets have suffered, with closures of some of the UK’s biggest retailers. John Lewis is a good barometer for what the new normal might look like and, as the retail giant closes many stores across the UK, it predicts that 70% of all future sales will be via the internet.
Clever retailers are already adapting too the new normal, offering virtual reality experiences and immersive experiences so that you can still look around the shop floor without leaving the comfort of your home. Pricey rents may be forcing retailers off the high street, but many are adapting by expanding their warehouse space, which offers lower outgoings yet plenty of storage to meet the growing demands of internet savvy shoppers.
Warehouse space requirements double
Paul Middlemiss knows more about retail challenges than most. Formerly Habitat’s buying boss, he now runs www.merchantandfound.com, the UK’s largest online vintage store selling furniture and home accessories. Last year sales surged by over 65% last year necessitating a tripling of warehouse facilities as a result. “We’re crazy busy! And I’d say that so far, sales are up 50% on last year, perhaps even more. As everything is unique, tripling your warehouse also means tripling your stock which has been a horrific process given the current climate.”
Middlemiss pinpoints the ‘horrible current situation’ as one driver for sales: “The lucky ones have money, they’re not spending on holidays or eating out, and they’re not commuting. Everyone is at home, so they have time to look for that table, it’s not just about a new desk and chair.” Sustainability is also an incentive for buying vintage home pieces says Middlemiss, likening the trend to the recent growing interest in electric cars. Ease of purchase is crucial says Middlemiss who sells via Pamono, First Dibs and Vinterior: “Instead of getting in your car and finding an antique shop, there’s now a huge marketplace online so I can see us needing to expand warehouse storage facilities even more.”
Busy housebuilders need warehouse space
Consumers may be buying home furnishings online but they’re also snapping up new homes as priorities change and they need more space and less access to city centres says CEO of Navana Property Group Harry Fenner: “Amid the ongoing circumstances, there are plenty of people prepared to spend in the sector which in turn, has enabled the property market to boom. While other areas of the economy were seen to be struggling, the property market defied the wider economic downturn.”
As his housebuilding company tries to keep pace with demand, Fenner constantly needs more storage for building supplies: “The supply for warehousing, logistics and industrial space is continuing to exceed demand, following the boom in the market.” There’s also a demand for building more storage: “While construction endured a brief period of lull after the first lockdown, we have now seen an upswing in warehouse construction, both for speculative schemes and those built for specific occupiers. Ultimately, it’s a positive time to be a contractor, working in the industrial sector.”
If you are finding yourself in need of additional storage space for your growing business do not hesitate to contact us. We have over 125 storage facilities in the UK so there is bound to be one near you. Many of our stores offer a Forklift Service for loading and unloading of stock, we can accept deliveries on your behalf so no waiting around, 24 hour access can be arranged at many of our locations and 24 hour recorded CCTV and intruder alarms.