Brick-and-Mortar Retail to Continue to be Important Despite Growth of e-Commerce During the Pandemic
Despite the fact that online shopping has grown significantly over the course of the pandemic, physical retail will continue to be an important part of the business as brands seek to connect with consumers face-to-face.
The death of the physical store has been grossly exaggerated, and even though we may see fewer stores in the future, they are expected to be much more experiential and well-thought-out compared to what we have seen in years past. Stores will become more immersive in terms of the use of technology, and a showroom model will be more common where products will be displayed with the opportunity to also buy online or through other channels.
Shoppers have shown an appetite for the physical spaces and after lockdowns, stores and malls became busy quickly. It is clear that humans are seeking physical experiences.
Prior to the pandemic, the International Council of Shopping Centers conducted a study that found that when a retailer with an online presence opens a new physical store in a market, there is also a boost in online sales. This would appear to indicate that consumers react to brands with a physical presence and will shop with them beyond the typical physical channels. Regardless, it is apparent that physical retail is important to the overall sales of brands.
One thing we are seeing more of, partly because of the pandemic, is pop-up retail and temporary leases where retailers are taking physical retail space for a temporary period of time in order to activate them and meet with consumers in-person. Pop-up facilitators, such as Toronto-based pop-up go, are saying that business is up in Canada and the US.
One important thing to note is that we are seeing a significant number of international brands looking at entering the Canadian market by opening stores in 2022. This is encouraging news and it also shows the ongoing importance of physical retail spaces to retailers globally.
Looking into the future, we can expect physical retail to be an important part of what we will see in our cities and communities. One consistent thing about retail is change. In the future, technology will be integrated further into the physical retail experience while consumers continue to also have options online and otherwise. That means in a few years from now, your local store might look a little different and will, hopefully, have more elements to make it experiential.
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