Internet continues to pressurise high street sales

21 Jan, 15

Is online winning the battle in bathroom and appliance sales?

Remember those lazy, hazy days when it was a genuine belief consumers wouldn’t buy a bathroom or kitchen from the internet? “People like to touch, look and feel in a showroom” would be the retort from high street retailers and “people buy people.” High street retailers would exclaim products sold online were  from people without vast experience of the market, trading from their bedroom, and admittedly that could be where some internet traders started. But there has been an explosion of online retailers in the kitchen and bathroom industry – such as BathEmpire, Victoria Plumb, not to mention – which have become major, household names in retail sales.

There can be no coincidence Victorian Plumbing has reported an increase of 120% in revenue and has announced a growth of nearly 40%, while the high street-based members of the Kitchen Bedroom and Bathroom Specialists Association (KBSA) suggest a 7% growth in sales. It continues to reflect the ever-increasing consumer demand for convenience, which may not be offered by a traditional high street store model.

Now issuing a further challenge to the high street, and to online retailers alike, is Corgi. It has just added a Bathroom division to its group of businesses and is selling suites, showers, taps and furniture online. But unlike start-up etailers which have to earn their reputation through a star-rated scheme, review sites or online recommendations, consumers will be aware of the Corgi brand.

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Rooted in gas safety, a Corgi-registered installer was a prerequisite of fitting or maintaining home heating, so the brand not only has the advantage it is identifiable but is almost synonymous with home safety and trust. Could Corgi Bathrooms be the next defining moment in bathroom retail sales?

Of course it’s not all doom and gloom as online retailer Better Bathrooms has also moved onto the high street, and continues to expand the numbers in its estate, proving there is a future for the high street stores too. And, of course, there have been some etailers that have fallen by the wayside. But internet sales and the surge in Click and Collect (order online, pay instore) have revolutionised the retail industry. Just look at how Argos has and continues to build its flourishing business. It has met a need for convenience that just hadn’t been solved by a traditional high street store. How have you capitalised on this growing trend?

Have you taken time to look at the latest digital developments to see how they could apply to your business? The internet will never catch on? It already has and now high street bathroom and kitchen stores must move quickly, to ensure they stay ahead.