Home » Blog En » Brick-and-mortar. A few words about the story of a stationary store


Brick-and-mortar. A few words about the story of a stationary store

The end of traditional trade has been announced repeatedly. Despite the pessimistic forecasts, brick-and-mortar stores – like Britons call stationary stores – are in quite good condition.

It is difficult to find in the Polish language a related term to brick-and-mortar, but its definition is quite simple. Brick-and-mortar is nothing but building materials that have been used for ages: brick and mortar. The term was first introduced in the nineteenth century and, interestingly, it was made by writer Charles Dickens in his book “Little Dorrit”.

The 19th and the first half of the twentieth century brought an intensive development of retail and stationary stores, from the first department stores, colonial stores to the prototypes of today’s flagship stores. All of them were located in buildings made of brick. The term brick-and-mortar was used both for fashion stores, food stores, restaurants, banks and other stationary stores.

The term “brick-and-mortar” has taken on a less positive connotation in the Internet age, usually meaning “old-fashioned”. Store windows, whose arrangement the best specialists treated almost like making an art, became an unnecessary cost.  Stationary stores give way to a new form of trading – online sales.

As usual,  the truth lies in the middle. It is a fact that the cost of maintaining a stationary store remains a large and constant burden.  A good example of an industry that has struggled to maintain its brick-and-mortar presence is retail book sellers – it is very difficult for them to compete with online book discounts. Online sales and streaming practically ended the era of video and dvd rental. Also a practice known as showrooming became popular: checking the offer in the stationary stores, then buying the product online at a lower price.

In many cases, brands have reduced the number of stationary stores and have launched online sales, but often with the option of picking a product in a stationary store. The vast majority did not replace traditional trade with online sales. It was a good choice.

This is confirmed by numerous surveys on consumer preferences. In the Fall of 2016, Forresster, the US market analytics agency, conducted a survey among the millenials (a generation born between 1980 and 2000) asking them their preference between online and brick and mortar. It turned out that 62 percent of respondents prefer to shop in a physical store versus online. Despite the fact that Forresster has been researching the group that is most technologically connected generation , it turned out that respondents value relationships more than product reviews on the internet.

Direct contact is something that online sales can not offer. Therefore, despite the high competition between brands and growing consumer demands, the value and role of stationary stores in building customer relationships has not diminished. Rumors of brick-and-mortar death are exaggerated and we can still expect a lot of interesting metamorphoses  of the stationary stores.

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ul. Płk. Ryszarda Kuklińskiego 17A
30-720 Kraków

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