Covid-19 has changed the way people shop, current pandemic situation might be getting better in the city, but the apprehension to shop out, or at packed places persist. Many consumers these days avoid closed and crowded places, entailing a preference to shop at high street retail, as it also brings back the sense of the old charm of shopping with the store’s proximity to the community.
At High Street, convenience, easy access and open spaces are some of the significant aspects attracting more consumers’ interest nowadays. The drive-through and open shopping experience in uncertain times of pandemic is driving more footfalls as consumers feel safe in open areas compared to closed spaces with centralized AC. The leverage is just not for consumers but also for retailers with increased footfall and emancipated CAM charges.
Shopping Malls on the other side do also have their advantages of being weatherproof, organized car parking, inclusive food courts, multiple entertainment venues, greater brand accessibility and shared brand benefits all under one roof, to name a few.
But, post-COVID 19, a predilection for High street retail has surely grown and created an understanding on how to tap the consumers, and as a learning, for retailers to tap high street based shopping centre models, which provides a wholesome experience to their consumers.
The Low CAM model & Larger Spaces
The cost per area maintenance for the high street is relatively lower for retailers at malls; they also have access to larger areas to create experimental stores, instead of a uniform design in a mall, hence increasing the exclusivity of the store, offering a home approach from retailers towards their consumers.
Higher Returns for Retailers
Investing in independent retail stores offers more promising returns. It has also been observed that high street stores have higher average sales than shopping malls depending on the season to season, yielding better returns for retailers. Hence, more demand for high street concepts, amongst retailers.
Additionally, enlisting key reasons why consumers simply prefer to shop at High Street Retail :
Convenience of Shopping
The impact of repeated lockdowns on customer behavior is widespread. Priorities have shifted to the convenience of health and safety which have in turn changed decision-making and buying behavior. Consumers have phased towards convenience over proactive experiential shopping. Easy entry and exit to the shopping centres are preferred. With the F&B segment, consumers favor hybrid seats, takeaways than dining in.
Shopping malls are a joint venture, which implies that they will have crowds that increase the risk of infection. People feel safer shopping in high street stores, where there is a greater risk of infection. High street retailers are independent stores, which means fewer crowds and a safer option for protection from infection.
Stronger Sense of Community-High Street retail located in the center of the community gives a stronger sense of community and local identity. Consumers see the High Street as the center of their community and play a key role in ensuring its identity. The most important part of this community is small independent retailers that give a consumer a better retail experience. The High Street retail also maintains the individuality of the city and provides a greater sense of community.
Customer’s expectation of instant gratification has led businesses to focus on price and providing convenient transactions. With Covid 19 outbreak and changing the shopping experience, high street retailers are adapting to meet the increasing consumer preference for online shopping.
Catering to Online Experience
Although online shopping is becoming more and more common, physical stores are still an important part of the customer’s buying journey. It has become the norm for customers to start a transaction on one channel and complete the transaction on another channel. Attributing to the change in shopping preferences, retailers have adapted to the omnichannel shopping experience to increase footfall in high street retail.
(This article is written by Nandini Taneja, Vice-President, Reach Pro)