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Last week the Office for National Statistics (ONS)* released data showing internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales.

The results show that having reached an all-time high in November 2021 of 37%, driven by Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers, the ratio slumped back to 27.7% in December 2021 as shoppers returned to the high street in search of inspiration for Christmas gifts.

However, the ten-year trend is still rising. Back in November 2012 internet sales accounted for only 9.4% of sales and over the last two years, this trend has accelerated further from 21.6% to 27.7%.

The Coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted high street footfall and retail sales, underlining the importance for businesses to have a robust digital marketing strategy to bring in online revenue. Failure to be present online risks businesses becoming isolated, as customers seek online convenience – particularly during uncertain economic and social climates.

Full-service UK marketing agency, Purpose Media, which specialises in ecommerce web design and digital marketing has been supporting businesses during the pandemic, notably as a digital partner of Chesterfield Borough Council’s Digital High Street Scheme. They will also be supporting Derbyshire City Council’s Business Resilience Programme in 2022, and both programmes offer high street business owners free support to move their companies online.

However, Purpose Media’s Managing Director, Matt Wheatcroft, is also urging traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses to wake up to the recent ONS data and move their business online, or risk getting left behind.

However, he doesn’t think this spells the end for the high street altogether, commenting he said:

“The ONS’ data is a stark warning for high street businesses without an online presence. It has been an extremely difficult few years for UK businesses, but it’s promising to see many are adapting to change.

“The slump back in December proves that customers want to visit city centres, traditional high streets and retail parks, as being able to see products up close is still a desirable experience. However, businesses need to offer a blend of in-store and online click and collect to cater to all of their customers. Some customers won’t be comfortable shopping in busy stores, for example.

“My advice for businesses is to seek expert advice and build an online strategy across an ecommerce website and accompanying social media platforms. The way we speak to our customers has changed considerably in recent times, and business owners need to wake up to the change. Using online digital platforms can be a great way to attract shoppers to special  in-store events.”

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