Two thirds prioritise high street over online retail

Two thirds (63 per cent) of consumers still prioritise the high street over online retail according to a survey by leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM.

The findings also revealed how over half (51 per cent) of consumers now describe themselves as ‘cost- conscious’ buyers.

The survey of more than 2,000 adult consumers across the UK revealed that, with the exception of technology and travel and tourism, shoppers prefer to buy products such as clothes, shoes, homeware and beauty in-store rather than online.

Andrew Westbrook, partner and head of retail at RSM said:

‘Whilst cost-consciousness presents a growing theme as the economic squeeze continues, our findings illustrate encouraging signs for retailers in 2018, particularly those with a high street presence. 

‘Despite the irrepressible rise of online retail, demand for the high street remains extremely resilient, as our findings suggest. We predict that an engaging store presence on a high street that presents the right mix, is going to continue to drive sales both in store and online. The all-important 20-35 year-old demographic are stereotyped for being glued to their smartphones, but the reality is different. Millennials make most of their purchases offline – with the youngest of this age group, those aged 20-23 most likely to make a purchase in a store. We expect to see the continuation of the trend of online retailers opening select physical stores in 2018.’

Aside from the 51 per cent who describe themselves as cost-conscious when it comes to spending on clothes, homeware, technology, beauty and eating out, 18 per cent now describe themselves as ‘needs only’; 13 per cent are ‘trust’ driven, and; the remaining 12 per cent attribute their spending habits to ‘impulse’ buying.

Hannah Heath, Finance Director for JoJo Maman Bébé, said:

'This year we’ve invested heavily in our online platform. As such we’ve seen a marked upswing in online sales. Conversely, and perhaps less predictably, has been our in-store trading performance - phenomenal during periods, and resilient overall. We have seen a 4% like for like growth on in-store sales over the past 6 months. We expect to see a similar growth pattern over the second half of our financial year.'

The survey, entitled ‘Who are today’s consumers?’, also asked respondents to list their top three choices of how they would spend an unexpected windfall of £1000. Around 60 per cent said they would choose to pay off their debts, while just over half (53 per cent) said they would put it towards a holiday and a third (34 per cent) would spend the money on clothes and shoes.

The survey also showed how customers are willing to pay more if incentivised. Around a quarter of millennial shoppers would be prepared to pay a premium if they could use time-saving technologies to purchase products or services. The same proportion would be willing to pay up to 20 per cent more for sustainable products.

The survey also showed that many actively think about fraud when booking online via a mobile, tablet or computer. 68 per cent consider fraudulent activity when ordering on a computer; 62 per cent when ordering on a mobile or tablet, and; 52 per cent when using a phone.