Report: Digital to lead physical store sales by 2026

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The pandemic changed, nearly immediately, many retailers’ focus. Where getting consumers in to physical stores was key prior to 2020, once governments issued stay-home orders and businesses had trouble keeping enough workers working because of illness, many had to figure out how to bolster their digital channels.

Buy online/pick up in-store flourished. Merchants and retailers offered special hours that were only for the elderly. Some invested in delivery options.

“Retailers rushed to invest in at-home delivery capability, in-store pickup and store curbside pick-up back in March 2020 and as the crisis progressed and became a long-term situation, the last mile became a key battleground offering opportunities for differentiation and to lock in shopper loyalty,” said Deren Baker, CEO, Edge by Ascential. “Eighteen months later, two-thirds of retailers (60%) offer two-hour delivery (or faster) and almost 30% of the retailers we cover at Edge Retail Insight commit to deliver in 30 minutes. These developments, along with online subscriptions, discounting measures and curated assortments, are helping to keep ecommerce penetration above pre-pandemic levels.”

Other interesting findings from the report include:

• The US is expected to see a 24% increase in ecommerce in 2021, the UK 32% increase
• Shoppers continue to key in on price and shipping options
• More shoppers are demanding same day pick-up/delivery

For these reasons the Edge by Ascential experts believe we’ll see more physical store closures over the coming year as retailers invest heavily in digital sales fulfillment. More data from the report can be accessed here.



Kristina Knight is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience writing on varied topics. Kristina’s focus for the past 10 years has been the small business, online marketing, and banking sectors, however, she keeps things interesting by writing about her experiences as an adoptive mom, parenting, and education issues. Kristina’s work has appeared with, NBC News,, DisasterNewsNetwork, and many more publications.