It's been a tough decade for retailers. But does the coming-of-age of Generation Z herald a turnaround for bricks and mortar?

The squeeze.

In 2008, £1 in every twenty spent on retail in Great Britain was spent online. In 2017, that figure was £1 in six. In 2017 alone, 1,772 stores closed their doors.* High street retailers have struggled to survive the seachange in spending habits brought about by the burgeoning of online shopping.

But as Generation Z takes its place as a consumer demographic with spending power, a reversal - or at least, a halting - of this trend could be just around the corner.

Generation who?

Generations are far from an exact science, but here's our rough guide to the age brackets as they stand in 2019. To help get your bearings, remember that even the oldest members of Generation Z were just 10 years old when the first iPhone was released in 2007.

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Chasing an experience.

Gen Zers grew up with mobiles in their hands, but their spending preferences might surprise you. A recent study by RetailWeek declared that Generation Z "might not be quite as attached to online shopping as stereotypes suggest."** In fact, as a whole, Generation Z are happy to continue visiting physical stores - as long as the offline experience is just as easy and tailored as the online one.

The numbers back this up. Last year, a survey of Generation Z shoppers found that, when asked whether they prefer shopping online or in a store, only 26% said they preferred online.^ For Generation Z - much more than for their older Milliennial cousins - bricks and mortar still has the edge on online shopping when it comes to socialising and having a personalised experience.

A seamless whole.

But Generation Z are still digital natives. To reach them, retailers must create an attractive, tailored in-store experience, supported by social and digital elements, that forms part of a seamless path to purchase, whether that purchase occurs in-store or online.

And as always, they must never overlook the importance of customer experience.


Sources:

*The Office for National Statistics

**RetailWeek Connect, 'Generation Z: The shopping and work habits of retail's chief disruptors'

^Fluent Commerce surveyed 5,000 shoppers between 14 and 24 years old. In addition, 26% said they preferred in-store, and 47% said they liked both in-store and online.

Photo by Felipe Galvan on Unsplash