Shoppers have braved localised snow showers to visit their favourite High Street stores for the first time since 4 January. Queues formed outside many stores, but the home delivery expert ParcelHero says nearly 50% of shoppers will never return to their pre-Covid High Street shopping habits.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘The “Glorious Twelfth” saw the start of the High Street bargain-hunting season as many people returned to their favourite High Street stores for the first time since early January. However, it was a different High Street to the one they remember, with no Topshops, Burtons or Dorothy Perkins, and even several John Lewis stores permanently closed. Our recent research shows 46% of consumers have no intention of spending as much in stores as they used to do pre-pandemic.

‘Encouragingly, those retailers that have survived the cull reported positive results, with queues forming outside fashion stores, footwear outlets, etc.. However, looking at ParcelHero’s numbers for the morning, there was no noticeable falling-back in online retail bookings either: at 11am online, ParcelHero’s regular retail users were reporting sales 68% up on the same period last year and just -3% down on average recent Mondays.

‘The likes of Primark and JD Sports saw sizeable queues, while favourite local indies have also reported brisk trade, but the genie is already out of the bottle. UK shoppers spent an average £3,379 online last year – more than consumers in any other country. UK shoppers now lead the world in the great migration to online.

‘It’s great we can finally see new clothes “in the flesh” before we buy, get a haircut and even brave the weather for an (extra) chilly beer in pub gardens. We should remember the lesson of the end of the first lockdown, however. After an initial burst of enthusiasm and early-morning queues to get into our favourite stores last June, things fizzled out after a few days.

‘Looking at the Government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) retail sales figures for June 2020, as the first lockdown was lifted, the value of sales actually fell -3.2% against the previous year. Clearly, the massive, pent-up demand many High Street stores anticipated just wasn’t there.

‘We’re confident the High Street will claw back some of its lost trade, but the success of physical stores is down to how well they blend their in-store and online sales. There are some big wins to be had, for example, in areas such as Click & Collect and BOPUS (buy online, pick up in store) that blend the convenience and security of buying online with driving footfall into stores.

‘Only retailers that embrace their websites as their most important shop windows and ensure their online services match the standards of their in-store experiences will survive. Our report revealing the measures High Street retailers can take to ensure they have a future is available at: https://www.parcelhero.com/blog/news-updates/2030-dead-end-for-the-high-street

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