High Streets Initiative · 8 August 2017

Digitally-enabled independent retailers witness sales upturn, both in-store and online

bakery
Independent bakeries that offer online ordering have also seen in-store sales increase

Traditional high street businesses, like independent florists and bakers, are experiencing a “retail renaissance” – using ecommerce to allow customers to browse and purchase online as well as in-store, new retail data has shown.

Defying tough conditions for retailers on high streets up and down the UK, research from payment processor Worldpay has found that independent retail owners who’ve embraced online payments now experience yearly growth of up to eight per cent, whereas those that remain “bricks and mortar only”, and don’t invested in an ecommerce platform, have seen annual revenues shrink.

Having benefited from an ecommerce sales boost, retailers who have embraced online payments have also seen in-store spending figures increase.

Amongst “digitally enabled” businesses, in-store sales grew by 2.06 per cent last year, while in-store sales in bricks and mortar only peer retailers fell by -0.09 per cent, on average.

Amongst the independent retailers benefiting most from this dual-track approach are florists and bakers.

Independent floristry business owners who’ve offered customers a mix of online and in-store spending options have grown 8.34 per cent in the last year on average, while bricks and mortar only florists have experienced an average fall of just over 0.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, independent bakeries and cake shops, that make it easy for customers to order online via an ecommerce platform, have grown by 8.7 per cent on average in a year, whereas those which haven’t have not seen any growth.

Commenting on the data, Worldpay’s chief UK marketing officer, James Frost, said: “Far from killing off traditional high street businesses, easy access to technologies like ecommerce is helping small business owners to reinvent their relationship with customers by being more flexible to their needs.

“Our data shows that real loyalty stems from giving customers a choice. Shoppers still love heading to the high street, but it is not always practical, possible or convenient to do so.”

According to Worldpay’s research, high street retailers who also sell online have had an easier time coping with a recent fall in consumer in-store spending on clothes. UK shoppers’ rate of in-store spending on clothing dropped by two per cent in the last 12 months, whereas online spending – principally from overseas consumers – grew by almost 23 per cent in the same period.

Frost went on to say: “Businesses that also sell online are finding they have far more options to off-set any downturn in spending among their local customer base by targeting shoppers further afield, including abroad.

“When times are tough, it can be difficult for bricks and mortar businesses to do much to open up new revenue streams. Tougher trading conditions emerging over recent months have exposed a growing gap between the high street’s digital haves and have nots.

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This article is part of a wider campaign called the High Streets Initiative, a new section of Business Advice championing independent and small retailers by identifying the issues that put Britain’s high streets under pressure. Visit our High Streets Initiative section to find out more.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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