Data from Barclays Corporate Banking shows that consumers in Scotland have returned to physical stores with confidence since restrictions began to ease, with 69% saying they have felt safe, or very safe, to return to the high street.
New research reveals that 17,000 local high street stores could open across the UK in the next 12 months, as shoppers adapt to a post-lockdown world by ‘looking local.’
The benefits are most likely to be seen in high streets such as those in North Ayrshire rather than in big cities.
The bank surveyed 306 senior retail managers and 2,005 consumers during May, finding that 39% of the latter are planning on stepping up their in-store shopping over the coming year, while 42% said it is their favourite way to shop.
The research shows that home and hybrid working patterns will persist into 2022 for more than a third (36%) of workers in Scotland, with 14% expecting to work entirely from home and 22% anticipating a part-home, part-office model.
Almost a third of consumers (31%) across Scotland now say that the best way a retailer can appeal to them is to open stores in their local area.
As a result, many retailers are reviewing their location strategies. Barclays’ research revealed that 18% of retail businesses in the UK with 10 or more employees are eyeing community store openings, with each of them looking at five new premises on average.
Euan Murray, Relationship Director and Retail Specialist for Barclays Corporate Banking in Scotland, said:
“E-commerce has been the undisputed winner of the pandemic, but not far behind are community high streets, as shoppers seek to ‘look local’ and support the stores on their doorstep.
“With the continuation of home working, this shows no sign of slowing down, and retailers are now looking at evaluating their store estates to meet local demand.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“The threat of shopping online to our local retailers is significant and puts the latter at a disadvantage – an issue I raised in Parliament a few weeks ago. While online matters are reserved to Westminster, their inaction has led to the SNP Government exploring the possibility of a digital sales tax to help support our local businesses.
“Barclays’ predictions are encouraging and if they come to pass, I know people across North Ayrshire will welcome that. However, as consumers we also have a role to play by not shopping online for those things we can buy locally.”