I spent an interesting day last weekend at the Nikon Business Conference. It’s never a great hardship to spend one’s Sunday at an establishment like the five-star Ham Yard Hotel in the West End of London but, as ever, the exchange of information and ideas was the real draw.

Nikon’s client base of independents skews toward high-end practices, often located in relatively affluent areas, so the conference’s focus on luxury was well-received. While I will reserve the main subject matter for a full report in an upcoming issue of Optician, I would like to share a fringe takeaway here that hopefully offers some optimism to practices preparing for an economically difficult 2023.

One of the speakers, Adam Moore of global research behemoth Ipsos, presented data on retail trends that undercut the often-heard assumption that ‘everything’s gone online nowadays’. In March 2020, some 30% of non-food purchases were made online, a figure that skyrocketed to 60% in May 2020 due to the pandemic. However, the latest figures for September this year show the share has dropped back to 39%. Furthermore, the high street, home to the vast majority of optical practices, has bounced back to a greater extent than retail parks and shopping malls.

Without wishing to be overly optimistic, many people have actively abandoned online and returned to the high street since the pandemic. Another speaker at the conference, brand expert Dr Darren Coleman, spoke at length about the need to create luxury multisensory retail experiences. Frankly, these cannot be achieved online and, as the idea of luxury differs according to means, making improvements in this area seems a sensible strategy for practices of all stripes. It might just help keep more people on the high street in 2023.