Flying High-Street

It’s no breaking news that the high street has had a rough couple of years, especially fashion stores. Online sales rocketed during the pandemic, filling the gap in our lives whilst shops were closed during lockdown. Now that things are back to (new) normal the number of in-store shoppers is close to reaching pre-Covid levels, 85% close to be precise.

It’s clear that after months of zoom-calling and endless ASOS-scrolling, shoppers are starting to flock back to the high-street. Here are three big trends that the Slip team are seeing as people dust off their tote bags and head to the shops.

Lets Get (Hyper)Physical

Coined by The Future Laboratory, Hyperphysical refers to a new breed of stores that focus on a multi-sensory experience for its shoppers. These stores may be light on actual inventory but rely instead on creating and enforcing the identity of the brand to their customers in a way that is sure to stick in their memory, and most likely gain some viral marketing traction in the meantime.

Hyperphysical stores are often aimed at young shoppers, used by Gen-Z darlings such as Jacquemus and Balenciaga, and tap into the younger generation’s desire for a more social, exciting and Instagram-friendly shopping experience.

We expect to see many more Hyperphysical stores and unique retail experiences as shoppers demand something different from the high-street in the face of metaverse shopping.

Try Before You Buy Shop-Space

Undoubtedly the events of the last few years have created a large amount of uncertainty within high-street retail and increased the perceived risk of opening a store. Sook have been disrupting the pop-up space, offering retailers a chance to dip-their-toe into the offline shopping world without the commitment of a long-term lease. Brands can rent spaces with very little minimum lease time and have full control over interior design, digital integrations and customer experience.

This is a great way for brands, in uncertain times, to test new products and store formats to see  if the bricks-and-mortar commerce world is for them at all...

E-Commerce Gets Real

You my know some brands recently moving to have an entirely online presence (e.g. Debenhams, Gap, Topshop), however there is also movement in the other direction. A major example of this Gymshark, the fitness goods e-retailer that has seen explosive growth in the last few years, opening their first physical store on Regents Street this summer. In the words of their chief brand officer Noel Mack “ [a physical store] can just build up more trust between them [shoppers] and the brand.”  and “in this ever more digital world of the Metaverse and everything else, there’s some stuff which can’t be replicated online, and that’s why we really want to lean into this store.”

Gymshark is just one of many established e-commerce brands moving to IRL shopping. Smaller but established brands such as The Fashion Bible and Nicce have also unveiled plans to open their first permanent London stores as well as global super-brands such as Meta and Google. To us its clear that no matter  the challenges that face the high-street, and whatever bells-and-whistles the metaverse can bring, brands both big and small will always see great value in having a physical presence for their customers.