For retail brands and their agencies, this is obviously not good news, but there is a silver lining amongst the clouds: the number of British shops had been growing in that period until 2018, so the decline is from an unusually high overall total.
Regardless, it’s important to remember that retail overall has seen growth year-on-year. What we are witnessing is actually a fundamental redistribution of where and how consumers choose to spend their money.
In the UK, ecommerce sales have grown steadily over the past few years, both in real terms and as a percentage of overall retail spend. With the ever-present spectre of Brexit looming, this growth has decreased year on year as belts are tightened, but we have still seen growth nonetheless. This trend of ecommerce rising as brick and mortar falls is expected to continue for the next 5 years, well into the new decade.
Take grocery shopping as an example: for a traditionally in-store experience, the percentage of people doing their weekly or monthly food shop online has grown, albeit slowly, since 2017. While this is still a very narrow subsect of overall grocery shopping, it’s a great barometer for the changing attitudes of consumers.
Reports of struggling retail, then, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Consider how eCommerce will affect your audience’s purchase habits, as this will determine how much of your advertising budget you should put into this in the coming decade.