There isn’t a shopper out there who hasn’t seen the impact of the two great warmongers on our high street: recession and the internet. The empty facings, plethora of charity chops, and low price outlets have led many to believe that the high street isn’t just dying, but is dead, and has no chance of ever being resuscitated. And yet there are many examples of small towns, town edge malls and inner city developments which are bucking the trend and showing signs of fighting back.
So how do the high street retailers bring back the shoppers, and what does the future hold for the high street?
The economic downfall has limited retail sales and provided a strong rationale for shoppers to use the internet instead! In fact, 83% of consumers claim that they have, or would, shop online due to increased options, discounts and a broader selection of goods. People are more inclined to search diligently for a bargain from the comfort of their own home than brave the damp UK high streets – particularly at busy seasonal times.
The impact of online sales varies by retailer and by sector of course, but the most dramatic shift can be seen in music and film retail, where online retail is relentlessly crushing its high street counterpart. Conversely, sole internet players such as Asos and Amazon, with no bricks and mortar shops, are expected to double their share of the total market.
Electricals stores are also under pressure with just over a quarter of their white and brown goods now sold online. US retailer Best Buy pulled out of the UK last year closing all 11 stores while rival Comet was sold for just £2. Dixons Retail, which owns Currys and PC World, have also seen underlying sales in the UK and Ireland fall by 7%
And yet in fashion, just 9% of sales are online but this is still significant enough for several retailers – including Arcadia Group, which includes Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and BHS – to be looking at store closures. So e-commerce can enhance the high street; retailers just have to get smart. As with most things, innovation is probably the key. There are no longer any fixed rules when it comes to consumers, or even businesses, buying anything.
So retailers need to be flexible, explore all viable channels and use innovation. In the future, retailers need to employ a series of engaging techniques to persuade its customers that the best deals can be found on the high street.