The High Street Fights Back

Two former retail powerhouses have been placed into administration in the past week, leading some to ask whether retailers of digital products have a place on the high street any more.

This represents yet another blow for bricks and mortar retailing, following news in late 2012 from the BRC  that one in ten shops nationally, stand empty. Another report noted that UK shoppers spend over £1000 each per year, online (over £200 more than the next biggest world spenders, Australians). To add insult to injury, it’s predicted that high street spending will drop to 40% of total retail spend by 2014. A 10% drop in barely more than a decade.

But other indicators might suggest that the high street is fighting back. Independents, shopping centres and local authorities have been forced to change the way they operate amongst increasingly technologically active consumers. Meadowhall has managed to increase average spend by and astonishing 17%, by creating a better customer experience, including new food outlets. Independent shops are promoting themselves in new ways, with food retailers focussing on local high quality produce. Local councils are enticing greater footfall in town and city centres with new offerings such as market days and street entertainment.

Many retailers are reassessing their strategies too, and the words multichannel and omnichannel have become common parlance. The most forward thinking retailers have a complimentary high street and online presence.

Our home city of Leeds is set to be propelled up the retail ranking, from 7th to 4th nationally, with the opening of a vast 1m sqft shopping centre. In the heart of the city, Trinity will house the best in retail, food and even boast an independent cinema. The death of the high street? Perhaps more of an evolutionary re-birth.