When was the last time you went to a high street shop? This may be an unfair question considering how strange last year has been for our shopping habits. But even if we discount the impact of the Covid-19 experience, the retail sector has been quickly evolving over recent decades. Is this decline a sign of terminal decline, or will the high street evolve to be relevant to our shopping futures? Let’s look at what may be next for the high street?
A Year of Staying Home
We cannot ignore the impact of being forced to live, work, and shop from home for the better part of a year. Living in lockdown has shown us what is possible when we cannot physically visit the shops. The biggest advantages are cost and choice. The major downside is having to wait for an item and having to return the item via mail and wait even longer.
High Overheads in the Race to the Bottom
One issue with the high street and physical retail are the high overhead costs. There is a double whammy of high rent and business rates to match. We know politicians, such as the Mayor of London, have been recently attempting to encourage us back to the high street when it has been safe to do so. This shows how important the traditional retail sector is for jobs in this country. With online retailers having much lower costs in comparison, they are easily winning the price race to the bottom. Hopefully, the political class will recognize this and give relief to shop owners to encourage them to remain in our high streets.
New Digital Finance
The world is quickly becoming a much more tight-knit global economy. Even the average consumer can order goods directly from Chinese manufacturers to keep the cost low. This is a huge challenge for the average British retailer. There is a range of ways for online consumers to make payments as well. One innovation is cryptocurrency, as we can see users invest and spend these virtual coins at a range of sellers, mostly online. If you are competent in using a PC it’s easy to swap XRP to BTC or any other cryptocurrency. There’s no reason retailers shouldn’t get on the bandwagon and start accepting cryptocurrency. The advantages are lower transaction fees and the possibility of opening themselves up to a new global market.
Expertise & Niche Knowledge
The one advantage that real-world retail will always hold over their virtual counterparts is knowledge and service. Imagine you are looking to buy climbing equipment. Pretty much anything you want can be purchased online, from anywhere in the world. The issue is, can you be sure of what you are buying? You may want advice from a knowledgeable staff member as to what is most appropriate for a particular purpose. As much of this gear is safety equipment it may not be allowed to be returned to online stores if a customer changes their mind.
This article has been contributed on behalf of Paxful. However, the information provided herein is not and is not intended to be, investment, financial, or other advice.