Is online shopping killing the high street shops?

The retail industry lies at the heart of the economy and is its largest private sector employer which means great job opportunities for apprentices and fantastic opportunities for long and exciting careers!

Local retailers provide everyday services to tens of millions of people and are a point of contact for countless customers and communities. But is the rise of internet shopping making it harder for shops to make sales?

Increased competition

Many young people get their first job in retail and develop long and rewarding careers.

Market growth in recent years in the retail industry has been sluggish at a time when costs are climbing and prices have reached a plateau. The recession made it really hard for lots of cool shops who we all knew and loved…but are shops recovering and learning to adapt by making offers in store even better? We think so!

Technology is intensifying competition across retail as overheads are cut to provide value and choice for customers with the digital revolution having an effect too as it drives on and off-line sales and provides transparency for customers and competition for retailers.

However – what happens if you need an outfit for a night out tomorrow? Most places will offer next day delivery at a higher cost – more than your bus ticket would cost to get into town, on top of that you have the risk of not being able to try it on before it arrives...we’ve all been there…new jeans arrive ready for that big night out and they don’t fit! Panic stations and drama as you now have nothing to wear.

So we can argue online has many great benefits and its easy, you can do it in your pyjamas on your sofa at midnight and aren’t restricted by opening times etc but you can’t guarantee what you’re going to receive when the postman rings the bell…wrong size, wrong colour, wrong item all together?! It’s the kind of thing you do when you have half an hour to kill and fancy browsing not when you need something fast!

We think you really can’t beat that feeling of walking into your favourite shop and browsing rows of fabulous clothes, or shelves lined with gadgets and gizmos and trying before you buy to make a day out at the shops fun!

Not only this but retail and shop work is flexible. It’s great for those studying, those with family commitments or hobbies to pursue as retail hours aren’t unsociable and can be flexible and split over rotas.

Changing times

Within the industry a number of significant changes are taking place: the introduction of a living wage, the introduction of an apprenticeship levy, a review of business rates and a surge in online shopping, but does this spell the end for retail?

The answer is simply no. Retailers work in every corner of every community and have done so for centuries and it’s what makes our UK communities. It gives people a place to hang out, meet for coffee, browse outfits and try things on with your friend there telling you “you look great in that” or “umm, bad choice, that is so not cool” – online doesn’t give you that freedom or that day out.

If you need a pint of milk, bar of chocolate or some crisps you aren’t going to wait until tomorrow when a supermarket will deliver it for an extra £4…you’re going to go get it! Therefore these shops will be around forever, they will just adapt and get more awesome.

Examples of cool retailing…Google Glass! Walk into a shop, not sure where your favourite top is…no problem! Google Glass tells you exactly where it is. If retail was dying why would they be inventing products like this? Retail isn’t dying, it just hasn’t moved as fast as technology has, but its adapting and is certainly going to catch up making the shoppers experience the best it will ever be.

Once higher levels of automation are introduced, the skills required of staff will have to evolve as different types of jobs are fashioned, particularly in large retailers.

This is great news for apprentices as all retail apprenticeships give you modern, current and adaptable skills and with many stores having digital capabilities such as choose and pick or 3d previews on tablets, this means you get to learn and develop with the latest retail technology at the same time.

The speed of change in the economy is quickening and nowhere more than in the retail industry as technology spreads at a rapid rate…working in retail has never been so exciting!

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