We are a nation of shop keepers – or maybe not any more.
According to PricewaterhouseCooper, a record number of retail outlets closed in Britain in 2018. The number of new ventures opening was approximately half that opening five years ago with a total of 3,372 outlets opening and 5,833 outlets closing, an overall picture of decline.
To consider why, commentators will cite internet shopping, economic uncertainty & austerity.
Your local High Street is a great indicator and barometer of your local economic and cultural conditions of those who live around you. A High Street with branded chains & independent shops- coffee shops, delis, vintage clothing, antiques- that is a place that is economically desired, has or is gentrifying; a High Street full of charity shops, pound shops, payday loans shops, pawn brokers- that is a place that is economically depressed. I generalise a little but you can see a trend in the type of establishments that tend to provide a recognisable indicator of how well an area is doing.
There has been a trend in recent years away from larger out of town supermarkets & retail park outlets back to smaller local stores – this is identified through the development of internet shopping where you can buy more bulky or heavy goods including your weekly shop via home delivery services with then more actual day to day shopping for goods or products where more selection or consumer choice & discretion may be provided.
We are beginning to see local independent businesses rebuilding on the day to day shopping trend, seeking out the personal touch in shops & a refuge away from the idea of chains. We are also seeing more supermarket operators seeking to try out ‘local’ store provision, back on our High Streets and also in our local parades or former pubs. Indeed chains are seeking to present themselves as ‘independent’ focussing expansion around groups of smaller numbers of same name units to provide an impression of ‘independence’ or ‘local’.
Retail start ups nowadays build a website into their business plan. Larger chains and stores use their High Street location as a showroom or local pick up location, as well as a shop. It is a place to actually have experience of the products being sold online or to collect those ordered on line.
Our town centres are constantly changing to adapt. It is only opinion without any real facts to back this up, but my assumption on the future of the High St is that we will see a reversion to artisan shops – more greengrocers, butchers, bakers and the like. I think this will be interspersed with pure service type shops – like hairdressers, nail bars, etc. Between these stores will be restaurant, cafes, coffee shops, chain clothes & footwear stores on smaller formats providing ‘showroom space’ then finally anchor stores – department type stores where branded chains will congregate together as further showroom space. I think the town centre will be smaller in Plan shape with more ‘ experience locations provided around these providing leisure time locations. The length of the High Street will ‘shrink’ to atone to this changing make up and composition.
We at Julian Church and Associates have been involved in working on your High St for the last 20 years or so and will continue to help shape what the future provides. If you are a retailer with a unit that you would like to employ our services to help you with the changing face of the High St then please do contact us to discuss.