The industries which are still going strong offline

31 May 2019

There are many things that we used to pop out to the high street for. Clothes shopping, heading to the bank, picking up prescriptions. Now, with the advent of digital, we scarcely need to make the visit. We’ve an abundance of clothes stores available at our fingertips, every bank has an app, and even prescription services can be delivered to our door these days.

Is it safe to say that the offline world is a ghost town in the modern day? Not at all! There are many businesses who are not just surviving in an offline format, but actively cannot be replaced by digital means. Let’s take a look at a small selection of these offline organizations.


According to one report, there are more than 42,000 hairdressing, barbering, and beauty companies within the UK, with just over half of these businesses turning over less than £99k. Despite this, they remain one of the top ten most popular independent start-ups for entrepreneurs.

Sure, we can while away the hours on Google looking for the perfect hairstyle to suit our face shape, the right colour to bring out our skin tone, the latest trends. But once you’ve got it all pinned down to the perfect hair style, there’s nothing else the digital world can really do for you — other than help you book an appointment with a hairdresser, that is!

Everything else is an offline experience, and indeed, the tools of the trade are mainly offline too. The previously mentioned booking systems might have migrated from phone to online for some companies, but as far as digital tools go, there’s nothing to replace a good pair of scissors and spa-worthy shampoo.

Car dealerships

Again, while the digital age has brought huge changes to the vehicles we drive, the manner in which we acquire them has remained mostly unchanged. After all, there’s only so much that can be said for online reviews, and while more people are doing research before purchasing a vehicle, nothing can replace a first-hand test-drive to find out if a car is right for you.

Cleaning companies

Another popular choice among entrepreneurs, cleaning companies are very unlikely to completely migrate to digital. After all, there isn’t a Roomba for everything cleaning-wise yet!

As with the other companies mentioned, online booking and marketing your cleaning services online is a given, but the fundamental service of contract cleaning really can’t be improved by a shift to the online world. Physical objects need physically cleaning, even though we might not be far away from a smart vacuum that can send a notification to your phone to remind you that you haven’t vacuumed your floor since 2010.

It’s certainly a business that is flourishing in the market despite being mostly offline. According to figures, the UK contract cleaning market is worth around £5.6 billion, with around 32,000 companies operating in the UK.

There’s certainly still an offline industry that isn’t going anywhere, even in a world where there is, usually, an app for that!


NHF, 2018 Industry Statistics for Hairdressing, Barbering & Beauty, (2018)

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