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Real-world shopping: the new black

Marie Mulles enjoys real-world retail therapy, while her partner, Jared McMahon, would rather collect bargains online. Spanish retailer Zara has just set up shop in New Zealand, but also sells its goods online in Australasia. AP

Shoppers are heading back to the stores for their purchases instead of using their fingers and shopping online, new research shows.

Accounting firm PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey, 2018, found in the past three years have globally seen increases in weekly bricks-and-mortar shoppers, from 40 per cent in 2015 to 44 per cent in 2018.

The rise in physical store shopping could be attributed to a desire for a more sensory and social experience.

It’s been just over a week since retailer Zara burst onto the online sales scene in New Zealand and Australia, to the delight of online shoppers outside Auckland. But in our largest city many still choose to go to the flagship store in the Sylvia Park mall.

Kiwi couple Marie Mulles and Jared McMahon like to shop at Sylvia Park.

Burnt by bad online shopping experiences, Mulles prefers shopping in-store after work.

‘‘I’ve had bad experiences with online shopping, things not turning up like what they looked like online,’’

Mulles said.

‘‘I like to stroll down here after work.

Shopping is like therapy.’’

McMahon is the opposite – preferring the cheaper deals found online, unless it’s for lastminute purchases.

Online retail giant Amazon is hoping to keep online shoppers at bay with its move into the Australasian market, with some pundits predicting it will eat up to

16 per cent of the discretionary retail market.

The way Amazon was rolling out warehouses in other parts of the world, it was increasingly likely the retail giant could open in New Zealand, First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said.

‘‘I think there is potential for that in the future, so I don’t think we should be dismissing that now, whereas we probably would have thought that 12 months ago.’’ In some ways, Amazon had forced a change in the retail sector.

‘‘It probably has frightened some of the weaker performing businesses into either exiting or amalgamating or actually some investment in supply chain and infrastructure.’’ Retailers needed to focus on providing more product information online, including user experiences and video, Wilkinson said.

Details of delivery times, and availability of a products were also essential.

‘‘New Zealanders have a number 8 wire mentality, so we are seeing retailers doing extremely well with this kind of stuff.’’

The younger generation was interested in social commerce, such as buying and selling items on Instagram, but were less likely to walk into a physical store now, Wilkinson said.

‘‘They are going into stores for inspiration or as a social trip, but that purposeful store visit for them is getting less and less, and that’s becoming a real concern.’’

Sunday Star Times

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