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The Evolution Of The High Street

Catford high street

High street retail shops have been a big part of the British culture for decades. However, the whole landscape of business models and retail is changing drastically. This is because more and more consumers are shifting to online shopping instead of going to physical shops.

The high street crisis
There was a paradigm shift in 2019. This was when retail shops started closing because of a shift in the habits of consumers. There was high profile retailers effected such as New Look, Marks and Spencer’s and even Waitrose.

Consumers are shifting towards online shopping as they offer a variety of benefits such as accessibility, same-day delivery and value for money. COVID-19 has further grown the need for online shopping – the market has surged 129% across the whole of Europe!

Rising costs
A great problem with having a high street store is that it is expensive to operate a physical store. Every year the minimum wage keeps on increasing and so does the rent. Many businesses can’t keep up with such costs which have led some to switch to an e-commerce business model that lowers such costs.

Because of the rising costs of employment and rent, many retail shops on the high street have shut down.

Coronavirus has greatly decreased the footfall of the high street – in June 2020, high street footfall decreased by 65%, compared to last year. The #StayAtHome campaigns have been really effective.

The surge in online spending has balanced out the quieter high streets, however, many local retailers have suffered – leading to great pressure on store owners and closures.

Future of the high street
While it is true that many people prefer online shopping because of convenience, a recent survey showed that 53% of people still prefer shopping from physical stores when they have the time.
There is also a part of the population that still doesn’t trust online stores and prefer physical stores as well. Keeping that in mind what does the future of the high street look like?

First of all the key to surviving is adapting to the situation and circumstances. Many retailers have shifted to omnichannel commerce, as well as being able to buy from physical stores, some retailers allow shoppers to buy online and have implemented click and collect as an option.

Many people also argue that the hours of the retail shops should be stretched. Most people have work and they can’t shop in normal hours. Stretching the opening hours of stores will make them more accessible to those who work long or unconventional hours.

Bottom line
Technology changes everything, COVID-19 has further sped up the evolution of how we shop. Businesses are adapting and retail shops are dying, however, there are still adaptable brands that won’t close their physical stores anytime soon.

Retail must adapt and come up with ideas to attract more customers so the high street culture stays alive.

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