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“E-commerce” – it’s a word that has been used a lot over the past 18 months or so, especially since the very first lockdown, back in March 2020.
With shops having to close their doors, e-commerce became the only way to keep trading, allowing people to transact with businesses online.
Whilst this was adopted confidently by a lot of dealers, some were not so keen to move to an online trading process. This was understandable, especially for small, independent businesses who might not have the resources to facilitate online orders.
Here at Autoweb Design, we were especially keen to help our customers who were looking to continue trading and in April 2020, we offered to integrate our own e-commerce tool to any website, to help dealers continue to trade.
Of course, this rise in e-shopping has directly impacted bricks and mortar businesses, with a noticeable reduction in footfall, even without the numerous lockdowns imposed recently.
It’s possible to assume that the e-shopping trend wouldn’t have taken off as quickly if it wasn’t for Covid-19, but we can see from a recent study by Staista.com, that general retail footfall has been in decline from early 2019 (with the exception of March 2019, which saw a 2.5% increase).
Source – Statista.com
This graph clearly aligns with the Covid restrictions, but even over the recent months where restrictions have been relaxed, there’s been a continual large decrease in footfall compared to 2019.
Statista.com says; ‘Since at least 2012, there has been a consistent increase in the number of store closures, while openings stalled. As of 2019, there were more store closings than there were openings in Great Britain in the retail and leisure industry.’
This offers a truly eye-opening view of how brick and mortar businesses have not been prioritised as much over the past few years, but perhaps businesses are placing more focus on their online store, which means reduced overheads in relation to costs associated with owning a bricks and mortar business, such as rent and insurance.
This brings us onto the affect this e-shopping trend has had on car sales – with the reduced footfall comes less requirement to own a car.
If we look at the early 2010’s, ordering groceries online was much less popular than it is today, meaning owning a car was more of a requirement back then.
With grocery stores making it too easy to book a slot, place an order and pay a small fee for delivery, more people than ever are using this method to purchase their groceries, which is also much more convenient, especially for busy families.
In a recent study by ScienceDirect, it seems that the increase in e-shopping alone hasn’t had a dramatic affect on car sales, with consumers simply reducing the frequency in which they visit brick and mortar stores, rather than stopping visiting completely.
There may be other factors that have meant that there is less of a requirement to own a car, from improved public transport to transport related issues such as congestion and air pollution.
This trend is likely to differ dramatically based on geographical location. Where consumers live in built up city environments, the need to own a car is significantly reduced, mainly due to good transport links, or everything being in walking distance.
For consumers living in more remote areas, even with e-commerce and online shopping on the up, the need for a car will not reduce all that drastically, if at all.
It seems that the decline in footfall to brick and mortar businesses is not solely attributed to any requirement for owning a car, but it could go part way to adding to the decision, alongside other environmental and economic aspects.