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Physical stores 'an engine of online growth' finds research

Opening a new physical store increases local online traffic to a retailer’s website by an average 52 per cent, according to new research commissioned by retail property group British Land.

Smaller retail chains see an even bigger benefit from opening an additional store. Groups with a network of fewer than 30 stores saw an increase in online traffic of 84 per cent, suggesting that newer online retailers can accelerate their growth faster with strategic store openings.

The study, based on data from Connexity Hitwise, shows that the increased digital traffic is sustained for around 15 weeks before settling at a level higher than prior to the opening of the store. According to British Land this demonstrates a significant and sustained impact on digital interaction.

The research builds on British Land’s True Value of Stores study, carried out last year, in a bid to more accurately measure the halo effect of physical stores. Further work is now underway, in partnership with Revo, to measure the distinct contribution of each retail channel.

“One year on from the True Value of Stores report, the findings are more relevant than ever,” says British Land head of retail business development Ben Dimson. “Blending channels is increasingly common, pure-plays are still moving to physical and click & collect, an increasingly important link between physical and online, is continuing to take ground.”

Fellow British Land director Charles Maudsley adds, “The research shows that physical stores are an engine of online growth. Consumers choose brands that align to their lifestyle and values: a physical store enables a retailer to demonstrate its brand in action and drive interest online. At the same time, stores enable retailers to respond to evolving shopping habits, market their brand effectively, and deliver products more efficiently.”

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