Over the last decade or so we have become increasingly adept at utilising the internet for any number of tasks that would have traditionally taken place in person. 

We can now book holidays, do university courses and even get our weekly shop via the internet, and it’s safe to say that it has simplified and streamlined any number of processes. 

And nowhere is this more clear than in the retail sector.

A shift in habits

According to a recent report released by Retail Economics, more than half of all UK shopping will take place via the internet within the next 10 years. And, given that recent estimates suggest that only around 19.2% of shopping throughout the UK takes place online, that will account for quite a staggering rise.

According to the report, this could spell disaster for any number of high street retailers, many of which are already struggling to remain afloat. In 2019 alone, retail stalwarts such as Debenhams, M&S, Topshop and Boots have all announced that they will likely have to close a number of their current retail locations. This will ultimately mean the loss of numerous jobs, but will also be another nail in the coffin of high street retail.

The next generation of shopping

There are numerous reasons why more and more people are venturing online to do their shopping; it saves time, it is incredibly convenient, prices can be cheaper, and increasingly advanced technology can often offer advice around purchases.

The report was also keen to highlight that Generation Z and millennial shoppers, which currently make up around 39% of the population, will account for around 55% of the population by 2028. Given that these people have grown up with the internet, and are far more comfortable making purchases online, it makes sense that as times goes on, physical shopping will begin to decline.

No way back for high street retailers?

However, the report has also offered a slim glimmer of hope for high street retailers. According to studies, younger generations – specifically those currently between the ages of 16 and 24 – are becoming increasingly conscious of the fact that their personal details may be vulnerable online. A comprehensive survey found that one in three 16-24-year-olds wants to limit the amount of information they give companies online. This is compared to around one in four in wider society.

Given that online fraud grew by a huge 40% in 2018, these results are perhaps not too surprising. The challenge high street retailers face now is being able to convince people that shopping in stores rather than online is a safer option.