From the blog

Changes On The High Street Are Not Over Yet

21st October 2014

A recent report from the Local Data Company and PwC Accountants indicated that the number of businesses moving off the high street has increased in the last 6 months. How worried should we be about this?

I certainly don’t think it is time to panic.

Included in the latest figures are the closures of Phones 4U and La Senza stores, impotent two retailers who went under and closed a large number of their shops as a direct and immediate result. This will have skewed the figures.

However, the experts agree that the single biggest reason for the period of transition is town centres adjusting to a new, experiential type of customer. Vacant shops are unlikely all to be filled with new shops but, instead, will rely on a broader range of occupier which may include restaurants, bars, cinemas, coffee shops and so on. Existing and new retailers will be heavily dependent on internet sales and collections from store (so-called ‘click and collect’ or ‘select and collect’) to justify their bricks and mortar investment. People’s browsing time on-line can be much longer than when they used to just browse in store, but the opportunity to cross-sell from matching a dress from one store with shoes from another is substantially increased.

Customers are now much more interested in the product and its price point and they can find the information they want much more easily.

In addition, mobile devices are giving today’s new town centre consumer the opportunity to find out what’s on and where the deals are when they are in the place rather than relying on printed maps, guides and booklets.

So, town centres are becoming more dynamic, diverse and direct. Many retailers are still playing catch-up with the way in which their customers’ habits are changing. We are not at a conclusion where the future is endless decline. We are, instead, at the opening page of a period of enormous change.