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Report dismisses idea that e-commerce is cannibalising high street sales

17 October 2018 - 10:45 by Simon Crisp

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The latest study commissioned by the British Retail Consortium and Springboard has raised questions about the extent to which shopping online is pulling people away from the high street.

Analysts found that rather than the web siphoning sales from bricks and mortar outlets, in reality the culprit is muted consumer confidence and other challenging market conditions outside of the digital sphere.

The factors that are currently causing shoppers to rein in their spending include problems in the property market, mounting household debt and the uptick of inflation, meaning that people simply have less disposable income available to them.

This all goes towards explaining the 1.7 per cent dip in footfall reported at high street outlets across the country. Conversely there was a very slight increase in visits to out of town retail parks, which suggests that it is not all doom and gloom at the moment.

Report spokesperson, Diane Wehrle, said that there was no doubt that bricks and mortar stores were having to weather some choppy waters at the moment. She also said that the suggestion that safe shopping online is entirely to blame for this decline was patently false, citing the other obstacles that exist as evidence of this.

Signs of a slowdown are being seen elsewhere, with new car registrations tumbling by a fifth in the past quarter, following on from several years of record sales.

Wehrle also laid the blame at the feet of retailers that have fallen on hard times, including the likes of Toys R Us, which make consumers question the stability of other big name bricks and mortar brands.

Making sure that e-commerce sites are not scapegoats in the fall of the high street is significant, as it refocuses the narrative and encourages a broader view of the market to be adopted.