The cycle of change in retail is accelerating faster than ever. Products, channels and technologies evolve rapidly as agile production methods kick in, technology is deployed and barriers to change fall away. However, the biggest change of all is in the attitudes of customers towards the process of buying goods.

The impact of online retailing on retail and logistics property has been well documented over the last twenty years but the early prophesies of the death of shops have, in the main, been disproved by events. This has allowed real estate investors heavily committed to the sector to relax – confident that retailers themselves have acted to preserve their physical presence on the High Street and thence demand for the property product.

In the UK, online retailing has grown it’s share of the retail cake exponentially over the past fifteen years and in 2015 it stood at just over 15%. This leads to some crucial questions for investors in retail property:\What have the physical impacts been at the current level of penetration?

  • What have the physical impacts been at the current level of penetration?
  • What proportion of sales are likely to take place online in the future?
  • How will those levels of online sales impact upon the viability of the investment product going forward?

This paper brings together the results of a model that uses demographic data with survey data on propensity to buy online to estimate likely penetration of online sales with retail vacancy data and presents a series of scenarios that examine the potential impact of demand for shops over the medium and long term. These results are then extrapolated to show potential impacts across the main European markets.