The fashion industry is leading the clicks-to-bricks transition driven by consumers’ desire to touch and feel product before they buy, new research has found.
Fashion pureplay etailers accounted for 29.6% of all online retailers taking physical space in the UK to date, according to Savills, outperforming the furniture and homeware sectors and electrical, DIY and building supplies firms.
Five pureplays opened their first physical spaces in 2016, the property firm said, including Missguided, which opened its first store at Westfield Stratford in November, while Finery and Little Mistress both opened department store concessions during the year.
“When it comes to fashion and homeware, the biggest driver of total retailing continues to be consumer preferences,” said Marie Hickey, commercial research director at Savills. “In particular, the desire to touch and feel a product before purchase remains strong, meaning physical stores play an important role in driving both online and offline sales. Stores can also deliver convenience to customers, a key attraction of shopping online, in the form of click and collect services.”
However head of UK retail, Sean Gillies, said this trend is unlikely to lead to a flurry of nationwide requirements from online retailers.
“The most significant impact on retail property will instead come from digitisation of the in-store experience, as mobile payment, customer recognition technology, live inventory tracking and monitoring shopper engagement with products become the norm,” he said.
“The concept of stores remains very much alive and well, though their appearance and the activities that take place within them will continue to evolve.”