The rise of the internet has long been blamed for killing off the high street and indeed online shopping has had an impact and led to a decline in shop sales but is this the only negative impact that has hit the high street? Online shopping was recently listed at only number 15 of all the factors that have led to a decline in footfall in our city and town centres.
Accessibility – having a centre that is not easily accessed by all forms of transportation is a big factor in the success of it’s retail sector.
Out-of-town-development – if there are retail outlet parks nearby and a lack of access between the two sites then this will cause a decline in the number of visitors to the high street.
Convenience – linked closely with accessibility, is it easy to shop on the high street?
Planning – without proper leadership and a workable plan for the area then decline may well set in.
Representation – is there a mix of store types and sizes or are there too many of the same kind of outlet.
The good news for the high street is that the most influential factors are all things that can be changed at a local level and so it might not be dead in the water just yet. Retailers and local authorities need to work more collaboratively and understand the many different reasons that people visit places and work on improving access to these in a coherent and customer-led manner. To witness a success story, take a trip to Market Harborough, a finalist in the Great British High Street Contest 2016. For more information, visit http://www.marketharborough.com/
Abandoned and boarded up shop fronts have become an all too familiar sight in many towns and cities and whatever the factors that have led to this decline, it is a shame to see it. A solution in many areas is to combine shopping with other activities that will attract people. Shopping centres that include cinemas, restaurants, museums or theatres are a clever way to channel footfall through shops as people do other activities. A bit like the concept of having the gift shop at the exit so consumers can be tempted as they walk through.
Rather bizarrely as online shopping is blamed for the death of the high street, some online giants have ventured into the realm of opening up physical stores. Two sofa specialists have opened physical showrooms and overseas Amazon has opened up real bookshops for the first time. Online women’s clothing retailer Finery is launching six concessions in John Lewis and Missguided has opened a concession in Selfridges. Online operators seem to be realising that the internet cannot offer that vital interaction between the customer and the product. Internet purchases are more of a buying action and not shopping as you can ‘go’ shopping and experience many other things other than just buying something. Combining both an online presence and a physical store manages to cater to those who might see something they like online but still want to see and touch it.