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Could Generation Z shoppers save the high street?

High street shopping has been in decline as levels of online shopping have risen with advancements in technology. Millennials prefer to shop online, receiving items at their doorstep in a matter of days, avoiding the stress of in-store shopping. And yet, will millennial shopping trends continue for Generation Z?

An article in The Grocer discusses a recent report studying trends in shopping for individuals aged 18 and above and above, known as the Retail Buying Study 2018. Interviewing over 50,000 adults in 11 countries across Europe, the study reveals that a quarter of Generation Z, individuals aged 18 to 24, prefer to purchase items in-store compared to online. This rate is 8% higher than in-store shopping rates of millennials, aged 25 to 34. With 76% of the youngest generation voting that going to the shops is entertaining, Generation Z could help to save the high street.

The reasons behind these trends are based on the idea that the younger generation are less busy, and thus have more time to shop. Without the constraint of time, shopping on the high street for Generation Z is not seen as a burden, but a positive social event. This is supported by the fact that only 58% of Generation Z take advantage of ‘click and collect’ delivery, a service popular amongst time-burdened millennials and Generation X shoppers who prefer to shop online.

Even though Generation Z may prefer to shop in-store, further studies reveal that more than three-quarters of European shoppers begin their shopping experience online, often researching products of interest and searching for inspiration. Subsequently, Generation Z consumers entering the high street have most likely viewed products of interest online beforehand.

What does this mean for the high street? Online competitors will not disappear; however, recent transitions in shopping trends for Generation Z offers hope. Younger individuals have the time to indulge in the physical retail world, viewing in-person shopping as a social event. This creates an opportunity for growth on the high street, as retailers have the opportunity to re-attract online consumers by engaging Generation Z – before their circumstances change. By focusing on customer experience and convincing young individuals that shopping in-person is more enjoyable than online, the high street is preserved and future shopping experiences could shift back to the high street.