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Demand for shop-fitting skills is clue to high street in-store investment

But it seems that they are not forgetting their bricks and mortar roots, as recruitment specialist to the shop-fitting industry, Beatrice Bartlay, believes that an increase in demand for specialist skills in shop-fitting demonstrates a clear trend that retailers are slowly re-investing in the physical retailing experience.

Although the latest Grimsey review showed a 10.3 per cent increase in the average weekly spending online, recent research from The Local Data Company revealed that shop vacancy rates are below 14 per cent for the first time in four years. Bartlay suggests that investment in physical interiors is getting a boost as more shop spaces are occupied and many retailers will be assessing their physical strategy.

Bartlay explained, “The key element that online retailing cannot duplicate is the social and fun part of shopping. This presents an opportunity for retailers to provide an experience through the physical shop, which simply cannot be replicated online.”

Bartlay, who is the founder and managing director of 2B Interface, a specialist recruitment agency that supplies skilled professionals to the shop-fitting manufacturing industry, suggested that retailers are taking advantage of the opportunity: “There is huge demand for numerical control setters/programmers, joiners with solid surface skills and specialist welders. In particular, skills welding stillness steal to aluminium, acrylic fabricators and estimators. All of these skills are required to manufacture beautiful, bespoke shop furniture such as coffee corners, restaurants and bars – areas in which consumers can socialise and enjoy the physical element of shopping,” she said.

Many retailers are also strengthening brand awareness across integrated channels by giving consumers a reason to go in store, with initiatives such as in-store & lsquo;Tweet stations’ and docked tablets for online assistance/ordering.

Bartlay concluded, “Increased competition on the high street requires more thought in the way of shop-fitting how the store is presented, how it lures in customers through displays and most importantly, how it creates a unique experience. If highstreet retailers are to survive the mounting pressure of technological developments and online shopping, they must follow the increasingly prevalent trend of & lsquo;adapt or die’.”



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