Shops '˜could be a thing of the past by 2050'

High Street retailers could be consigned to history by 2050 as virtual reality takes over the way we shop, experts predict.

The only time we can expect to be asked “Are you being served?” is when interacting with an artificially intelligent app.

The kind of department store which was epitomised by the Grace Brothers’ institution in the 1970s sitcom of that name is likely to be no more by the middle of the century, according to experts.

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Instead people will make all their purchases from home, trying on clothes in virtual reality changing rooms and getting advice from AI (artificial intelligence) shop assistants that know exactly how to cater for their tastes.

Online deliveries dropped into the back garden by drones will become a part of everyday life.

Experts writing in The Future Of Shopping report talk about the impact the “fourth industrial revolution” – a merging of physical, digital and biological technologies – on shopping.

They forecast virtual reality (VR) headsets that gauge your mood in the lighting and atmosphere of a simulated store.

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Co-author Russell Freeman, chief technology officer at digital marketing agency Holition, said: “It’s ironic that the fashion industry is renowned for its innovation, yet the way we shop is so old fashioned.

“From having to use a changing room, to being offered limited space in a shop, the whole experience is generic. Augmented reality, virtual reality, drone delivery and artificial intelligence will completely change the way we shop. It’s an exciting time.”