Online selling ‘a lifeline’ for retailers as 18,000 high street stores face closure

Traditional brick and mortar stores continue to struggle with the potential for thousands of high street units to be left empty by the end of this pandemic year.

The Covid-19 fallout is rewriting the rules of retail and it’s believed that many shoppers who have switched to buying online may keep doing so long after the coronavirus threat has passed.

According to research from the Local Data Company another 18,000 high street units could be left empty this year, almost double the number in 2019 as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect trading.

The research states that the closures would leave 14% of high street, retail park and shopping centre outlets empty across the UK.

Grofuse Content Director, Ian Cullen, said: “Consumers are likely to keep the behaviours they’ve adopted amid stay-at-home orders, such as more online shopping and fewer in-store visits. Mercury Order, a Grofuse online ordering software as a service (SaaS) is experiencing a high number of sign-ups due to this significant shift in consumer behaviour.”

More and more retailers are no longer expecting business to return to ‘normal’ anytime soon. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis, brick and mortar retailers were battling ecommerce rivals such as Amazon – those challenges have now been greatly accelerated.

Mr Cullen continued: “Retailers are looking to offer a simple and seamless ecommerce experience. Customers now expect online ordering services and will no longer tolerate mediocre digital shopping experiences like they may have before the crisis. If retailers cannot provide this, a competitor who can is just a click away for shoppers.

“Retailers are best advised to ensure their virtual stores are mobile-responsive, offer integrated services such as click and collect/delivery, and deliver a consistent, reliable digital experience in order to remain competitive and keep up with the rapid digitalisation.”


The disruption faced by the retail sector since March has caused a huge upheaval in business operations for many. If this wasn’t challenging enough, retailers also had to introduce unfriendly consumer measures, significantly reducing the number of shoppers in-store and enforcing long queue’s and wait times in the cold, winter weather.

“Ultimately, until a vaccine is approved and distributed globally, retailers have no other choice but adjust businesses operations to a socially distanced society.

As England enters a second lockdown, footfall in the run up to Christmas is set to drop by 62%. Even during the busiest quarter of the year for retail, high street shops without an online store could potentially lose 62% of their customers.

“It is important that retailers safeguard their businesses in the ‘new norm’ by accommodating customers’ changed expectations with online ordering and contactless consumerism.” Mr Cullen added.

Would you like to stabilise your retail business with ecommerce solutions as your brick and mortar store faces increasing challenges? Request a free Mercury Order demo here.


Of you’d prefer to speak with one of our team about your free demo or free set-up, call NI +44 28 7122 8820 UK +44 333 241 44 22 ROI +353 1 247 5294.