It’s not looking good for high street retailers. Major retailers are closing premises as online shopping grows and small businesses provide greater options for consumers.
There are uncertain times ahead for those who work on the high street. Mothercare, M&S, HMV, Debenhams provide thousands of jobs and these businesses are either struggling, or predicted to reduce their high street operations significantly in 2019.
Big business has called for the government to take steps to make it easier to maintain a high street presence. We keep hearing that the impending death of the high street and major retail outlets is something we should be wary and afraid of. This is bullshit. Here’s why…
The high street isn’t disappearing, it’s simply being reinvented by consumers.
There’s a common misconception that everyone is shopping online, but this isn’t true.
Only around 1/5 of goods are purchased online – a trend that is predicted to continue the next 5 years.
It’s not the simply case that millennials hate interacting with people or that you can buy it cheaper online. Consumers are drawn to positive customer experiences – and that is how all businesses have to compete.
We no longer want to pay for a shitty experience from a major retailer. And then to see that money passed on to shareholders whilst the company gets insane tax relief.
Instead we can choose to shop online or offline in places that provide valuable and positive experiences; produce quality products; encourage relationships between the business and customers; and invest earnings back into the local community. Civic Economics reports:
It’s no surprise that whilst major retailers are closing locations like crazy, independent retailers are thriving.
Customer experience is now small business’ most effective tool when it comes to competing with the major retailers.
This doesn’t mean that bigger companies will vanish from the high street. We expect to see large companies utilising customer data and turning that into valuable high street experiences.
What does this mean for the future of the high street? We expect a few changes to occur and some to continue:
– Smaller, independent businesses will continue to grow and open new stores and locations.
– Larger, smarter, businesses will use the high street as a medium for creating more meaningful relationships with customers with the goal of improving online sales.
– More retail and office spaces being converted to experience-led businesses like cafes and restaurants.
This will be the new high street. Not radically different to the one we know, but changed and hopefully more considerate towards customer experience.