Smart devices have unquestionably changed the way we shop. Whereas just ten years ago, consumers did the majority of their shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, the modern-day consumer spends increasingly more time—and money—browsing the wide selection of goods available online. The move from high street to online shopping is a logical one, as the latter allows consumers the ease and convenience of browsing millions of products without ever leaving the comfort of their home. And with the ubiquity of apps available for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry Z10, finding the best bargains is easier than ever.

            There are many pros and cons to the rise of mobile shopping. While brick-and-mortar retailers may be losing out, delivery companies are seeing increased business, and consumers are able to more efficiently manage the way their shopping experience. Let’s take a closer look at the recent trends in consumer habits and the forecasted fate of high street:

Is local mobile marketing trumping traditional media?

            The majority of predictions are completing writing off traditional media as local mobile marketing continues to grow. In the travel industry alone, searches are predicted to be about a quarter up just in this year. This doesn’t mean that mobile is opening more avenues for marketers than traditional forms of media but it’s also en-route to overtake fixed internet access.

            In August, figures suggested that Australians spend more than 10 hours a day on electronic media and, of that, more than an hour is on the smartphone. A lot of this is mobile gaming but it’s obvious that a captive audience is growing. Mobile ad spend is up almost 200% this year alone and as brands continue to embrace this style of advertising, the future is bright.

Can traditional media and the high street compete?

            With so much emphasis on mobile, and an estimate of a $682 million spend by 2018 for mobile ads. The habits of consumers are changing, content is evolving and the buying potential from things like smartphones and tablets is large and easy to do. Without a doubt, traditional media businesses are struggling and their ability to compete in this market is flailing. That said, with focus, data insights and measuring the captive audience some believe it can survive. That might be all traditional media can do, survive, but shopping trends show at least some hope for the high street.

Shopping Trends: Past, Present, and Future

            While brick-and-mortar stores may be able to compete with mobile retailers in the short-term, several studies carried out in the UK suggest the future for physical retailers ultimately looks bleak. A Mary Portas’s report showed that in 2000, high street sales accounted for 95% of all sales in Britain, while in 2011, that percentage dropped to 90%. By contrast, non-store sales accounted for just 5.1% of sales in 2000, but doubled to 10% of all sales by 2011. Retail Futures 2018 expects that percentage to double to 21.5% within the next five years. At the same time, brick-and-mortar stores are expected to decline in the UK, with more than 60,000 store closures forecasted by 2018. As more and more people begin to rely on smart devices in their everyday lives, we can expect this trend to play out not only in the UK, but in high street stores worldwide.

Felipe Baudouin
UK Marketing
November 2013




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