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What Needs to Be Done to Save the UK High Street?

Press release January 25, 2013

Another big high street brand bites the dust

Demise of the high street

By Dean Williams (www.print-print.co.uk)

The demise of HMV is evidence of a huge uncontrollable shift towards buying digital products online, making it an inconvenience to shop for this kind of product on the high street.

Why would you want to drive into your local town, having paid for fuel, park the car, trawl the racks in the store to find what you are looking for, not be able to listen to the track before deciding to buy, then queue to pay, pay for parking, then have to wait until you get home to play your purchase?

Alternatively, go online, buy a DVD or CD and stream it in a only few minutes.

Currently, high street retailers can’t keep up with the low overheads for online retailers, especially when the likes of Amazon don’t even pay any UK tax – which is just scandalous. Serious consideration is needed by local councils and landlords to help reduce the overheads for independent retailers on the high street to help them survive. Otherwise we will all lose out eventually and once the high street is dead, there’ll be no going back.

There has to be a reason to buy from the high street. The ‘good old days’ have gone now and for most of us there is no such thing as ‘passing the time’, people no longer spend all day wandering from shop to shop chatting to all the shop keepers. People now lead such busy lives that they want to get in and out as fast as possible, especially within the local high streets of small towns and villages, which are only surviving due to convenience. Currently it’s the convenience of being able to buy today and take away, especially when buying something non-digital such as clothing or food.

closed shops on high streetSo there needs to be a purpose for visiting the high street. It needs to become more personal and stay relevant.

The high street has to offer something the online retailers cannot by humanising the buying experience.

Take Home Depot for an example in the US - it has created local community stores which provide ‘top-up DIY’ products along with community classes for learning new skills. DIY projects carried out in local stores are combined with local schools and other local facilities, so everyone benefits. The high street can benefit from this mix of localised retail along with some hands-on physical experiences - for example, a local cake shop running lessons in cake decorating or a restaurant offering cookery classes.

Online retailers cannot replicate this type of face-to-face service and interaction and they will never be able to. The quicker the high street retailers develop this sense of community shopping experiences the better. It's only a matter of time before online retailers are able to deliver their goods on the same day, at which point the high street really is in trouble.

Subjects


Business