Dark stores should stay dark say shoppers

Dark store retail formats are growing in popularity with UK consumers, with their demand continuing even as the pandemic eases, according to research.

Order Management System provider OneStock commissioned research among over 2,000 UK shoppers.

It revealed that over two-thirds (67 per cent) used dark store retail formats during the pandemic - choosing to Click and Collect or have online orders fulfilled from a non-essential retail store that was closed to the public during lockdown.

However, even as stores have reopened and restrictions have eased, demand for dark store retail formats has continued, said OneStock, buoyed by the continued acceleration of e-commerce demand and the transforming of stores into “mini-warehouses”.

The research found that 84 per cent want to continue using dark stores post-pandemic. This is probably why British Land recently announced that it will convert a London city centre car park into a warehouse for online shopping deliveries.

Romulus Grigoras, chief executive at OneStock, said: “Born out of necessity during the pandemic, retailers are increasingly recognising that rethinking the role of the store is no longer a quick-fix, but the right approach in the long-term.

“The imperative to turn stores into mini-warehouses is supported by the fact that even large warehouses are not yet geared up for the huge growth in online orders, and often have neither the staff nor the stock, let alone the systems to manage.”

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