With the steady decline of the high street alongside added pressures of the coronavirus restrictions, many local shops have had to battle ‘the death of the high street’ to stay above water and remain open.
However, this is not the first time we have heard it is the death of the high street.
The high street as we know it has been struggling for years, with more convenient retail giants taking over, and it is widely recognised that it is only a matter of time before the convenience of online takes from the experience of shopping “offline”.
The death of the high street
The retail industry has faced many challenges in recent years. With the increasing popularity of online shopping and a steadily declining amount of footfall entering our stores, it is no wonder that the battle for the public’s attention is as competitive as it has ever been.
This problem isn’t new; in fact, the decline of the high street has been a prevalent issue for years where the last year has been the catalyst that has sped up the process. However, with added pressures from the pandemic restrictions and more businesses appearing online, the fight to keep the traditional bricks and mortar shop open, is facing even more uncertainty.
With online sales now accounting for a significant proportion of the UK’s entire retail activity, many businesses are being pushed to the limit but there is good news.
We are not seeing the death of the Highstreet. We are seeing a change in the high street with shops looking to downsize, become more boutique and focus on the experience of the visitor.
Over 85,000 online businesses launched during the UK’s lockdown in 2020, reinforcing that this isn’t the end, it’s just a case of adapting to a more modern customer base with new shopping habits.
Retail’s COVID casualties
Unfortunately for some, there have been retail casualties during the coronavirus pandemic with lockdown restrictions leaving business owners no option but to cease their trade or begin operating from home.
Recently, traditional chocolate maker, Thornton’s, has said none of its stores will reopen once the UK’s coronavirus restrictions are lifted, but instead, will keep selling through their online store.
Having been on the high street for more than a century, it is clear that long history and a dedicated customer base aren’t enough to guarantee security, and this is reflected in other big names such as Topshop, DW Sports and Debenhams facing the same fate after going onto administration.
Even before the pandemic, high street shops had been facing multiple difficulties. In fact, as of 2019, there were more store closings than there were openings and this has followed the same pattern into 2021, suggesting that the ‘death of the high street’ is an inevitable threat and something business owners need to take into consideration for the future.
Adapting your retail shop
With more retailers closing their doors and others firmly sticking to online sales, the need for shop space has minimised, meaning retail and commercial clearance has increased in demand.
With the initial influx of people wanting office clearances in the early days of the pandemic, we are now seeing this echoed in retail stores looking to close their businesses, move to smaller premises or migrate to online shopping services.
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