How can retailers still be surprised at the growth of online sales?

As retailers post their Christmas sales results once again, there has been a further trend towards online shopping. What seems strange about this is that some retailers were still surprised by it, and others have not fully embraced the online market.

‘John Lewis Managing Director Andy Street admitted to the BBC on Wednesday, that the retailer had been surprised at the speed of the shift from shops to online this Christmas’.

The whole online retail experience has matured and the associated delivery businesses have really got their act together. Think how quickly we’ve become used to overnight delivery and become impatient if items take 3 or 4 days to arrive. The great development is in the communication of these delivery companies. Nowadays there is very rarely the issue of having to wait in all day with no idea of a delivery time.

With more people working from home these days, sitting in front of screens all day, online shopping is the natural environment. With many high streets becoming the predictable line of anonymous, bland, big retail brands, it is no wonder that people are drawn to the often niche, quirky and unusual offers online. Location is no barrier, so international retail offers are accessible as are the major London shops such as Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.

But of course we need to be careful what we wish for, as retailers stretch their budgets to create more and more tempting online experiences, the physical store experience may suffer, and as selfish shoppers, we want the best of everything.

There is much talk about reviving high streets and this takes hard work and innovation to compete against the juggernaut that is online, but by retailers working together along side enlightened town councils, there is hope. The Scottish Borders has actually seen an increase in footfall in some of its towns which is encouraging and all down to investment and hard work.

There is no escaping it.