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After the Continued Decline of the British High Street, Out-of-Town Retailers Are Emerging Strong

By Emily Peagram 12 Jul 2021

Will Broome, founder of hybrid retail pioneer, Ubamarket LTD discusses technology implemented by retailers to navigate industry turbulence

The Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdowns had merely created a facade for the difficulties faced by an already ailing retail industry. According to the Centre for Retail Research, an analytics firm, by early 2020 high streets had around 50,000 fewer shops than a decade before, a drop of 13%.

With footfall in town centres continuing to plateau, despite the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions over the past months, there is one area of retail that is showing glimpses of promise. According to Springboard, footfall for out-of-town retail parks in the first week of June has recovered to 3% below their pre-pandemic level, compared to high street football that is still down by 22%. With consumers clearly finding greater comfort away from the hustle and bustle of urban spaces, this begs the question of whether the future of retail will be in localised settings.

Furthermore, localised retail outlets have used the last year to further maximise their offering that helps to entice greater footfall. Having previously been a niche product, the integration of retail technology during the past year has become ubiquitous with global customers now having access to use mobile self-scanning technology at 32,000 stores, many of which have adopted digital wallets and mobile self-scanning to remain relevant during the pandemic.

One such technology that specialises with convenience stores is the Scan, Pay, Go app Ubamarket, that is largely provided in localised convenience stores, and is implemented by a list of retailers including Central England Co-Op, SPAR, Budgens and Londis. Delivering key features such as age verification, aisle sat-nav and AI-driven personalised offers proving instrumental in helping physical retail outlets transform their service offering to compete in a post-COVID landscape.

Will Broome, founder and CEO of hybrid retail-tech company Ubamarket, discusses the importance of digital payment methods and how Britain’s out-of-town can enhance consumers shopping experience:

“As one of the most vital and integral institutions in society, it is essential that Britain’s retailers look to adapt to the new conditions to ensure they adapt to the challenges Covid throws their way. Retail technology offers an all-encompassing solution; in Ubamarket’s case in the form of a simple app; which can put consumers in control, doing away with the need for time-consuming queues, unhygienic checkouts, and confusion about where products are and whether they are in stock. By building lists off-site and checking stock before entering the store, retail technology can help reduce necessary queues before consumers travel to the outlet. It remains to be seen how the sector will fare beyond Coronavirus, but retail technology is sure to play a significant role.

“Ubamarket’s mobile technology helps retailers to offer customers an incredible experience when they come to shop at their stores. Not only does our technology revitalise and revolutionise the process of shopping in-store for customers, but it also provides retailers with a much-needed method to get back on track and ensure they can thrive in the midst of a tough climate for the industry.”

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