Coffee Over Clothes

The changing face of the UK High Street…

High Street is the most common street name in the UK and refers to the primary business street of villages, towns and cities and acts as the heart of any British town.

However, it appears that the traditional British high street may soon become obsolete, with more and more shops closing without being replaced. Both independent and chain stores are feeling the brunt. In the past 10 years, Brits have seen a number of their favourite shops close their doors. Notably, the 100-year-old Woolworths in 2008, Blockbusters in 2013, and more recently BHS that went into administration last year.

Statistics collated from online retailer OnBuy.com found:

  • The vacancy rate for shops is currently 13.3% - 1 in 7 shops are currently boarded up.
  • In the first six months of 2016, 2,656 shops closed on Great Britain’s high streets, a rate of 15 a day, and more shops closed than opened.

Factors such as competition from online retailers, high rental fees and a shortage of parking spots near to a high street all contribute. Furthermore, research has found that Brits are spending, albeit in different way; going for a coffee, a bite to eat or getting a treatment at a beauty salon has shown significant growth. Coffee shops grew by 6% in 2015 and this is predicted to reach 26% by 2020. Others thriving in this turbulent market include E-Cigarette shops, Estate Agents, Beauty Salons and Convenience Stores.


One prominent reason for the decline is the takeover of online shopping. Online shopping has increased by 8% from 2015, and 77% of Brits have claimed to have done shopping online at least once; 24% increase since 2008. Clothing and sporting goods are the most purchased products online, making up more than half of all purchases, and those aged 25-34 are making the most purchases.

Shoppers continue to be driven away from Britain's town centre’s by restrictions on parking. Motorists have complained about the rising charges, fewer spaces and spaces that are too small. Brexit has also pushed an unprecedented uncertainty onto businesses, regarding the future of stocks, shares, interest rates and the value of the pound which may cause a drop in confidence and therefore sales.

“I do my shopping at shopping centre’s and retail parks, rather than my local high street. There aren’t many clothes shops for starters, and the ones we do have are too small and do not have a lot of stock to choose from. It’s also far easier to park in a shopping centre, rather than parking on the high street which is a nightmare! Overall, I prefer shopping online. You don’t have to wait around in long queues and it's far quicker and stress-free. Also, I find you can get more deals online". [Kate, 27, West Sussex]

Cas Paton, managing director of Onbuy.com/gb has commented: "People love the ease and confidence of selling and buying online now. We allow traders to sell stock at a competitive price. It’s also beneficial for the customers as well, considering we are a marketplace, they can compare prices from different retailers. Shops on the high street need to adapt if they want to compete with online retailers and therefore survive in today’s digital age".

It’s all change on the High Street and retailers are advised to up their game and provide more of a personal service to ensure those customers make those all-important return visits.

Thanks to www.onbuy.com for providing the research information and graphic.


Category: General News