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Retail exec predicts end to online growth

27 December 2017 - 14:33 by Graham Miller

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Although many question the future that awaits bricks and mortar retail, the head of Unibail-Rodamco has claimed that e-commerce spending will plateau and there will always be a place for real world shopping malls.

Reuters reports that these comments come after Christophe Cuvillier’s firm spent £12 billion to acquire Westfield Corporation and all of the retail assets for which it is responsible at the moment.

He claims that in spite of rapid growth in recent years, safe shopping online will hit a plateau at around the time it accounts for a fifth of the world’s entire retail market.

At the moment, around a tenth of all spending is accounted for by online purchases, although in the UK the proportion is much higher. In fact, safe shopping online regularly exceeds Cuvillier’s predicted cut off point for growth as a result of British consumers’ love of e-commerce.

He said that one of the aspects of online retail that would prevent it achieving total dominance was that it was difficult to profit solely from selling in the digital sphere, indicating that a bricks and mortar presence is an essential counterpart to this.

As evidence that this is the truth, he pointed to the high street store openings that traditionally web-based companies like Amazon have completed in recent years.

Earlier in 2017 it was Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods that made headlines and indicated that the e-commerce giant was eager to get a slice of the bricks and mortar pie.

Of course, it is also worth noting that footfall at out of town shopping parks and dedicated malls has been faltering in recent years, so betting big on the continued success of this marketplace is not without inherent risk, even for such a large multinational company as Unibail-Rodamco.