High Street (2)

Nearly two-thirds (61%) of the British public are worried that the High Street will be lost completely within 10 years, according to new research.

With retailers from a range of industries announcing store closures in the UK, the study, by KIS Finance, found that northern cities have been worst hit by store closures. Cardiff is the only southern city in the top five most affected, while Leeds, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Bradford fill the top four spaces.

The study also revealed that a faster shopping experience was the factor most likely to tempt them back to the High Street (41%). Clearer in-store stock checking facilities (34%), 24hr opening times (27%) and self-checkout facilities (26%) were also among the top suggestions.

Retail analyst James Child, said: “It is quite likely that there will be a continuation, if not a proliferation of the negative headlines in retail. The raft of CVA’s and administrations in the sector has culminated in an expected 1,600 store closures across the UK, with over 18 million square foot of prime retail real estate vacated. When we break down the events of 2018 there are some trends which we could well see exacerbated into 2019 – due to fragile trading conditions and economic uncertainty.

“There are certain sub-sectors that will face more pressure others. The fallout from the department store will continue at pace, with the future of House of Fraser, and Debenhams, in particular, should come to a head, a merger quite possible with a reduction of their overstretched portfolios. Food and beverage, value and fashion brands will come under more strain as overstretched markets begin to weed out weaker offers as retail Darwinism bites.”

Holly Andrews, managing director at KIS Finance, said: “With store closures flooding our news-feeds recently, we were interested to find out what the future holds for the high street and how consumers’ shopping habits might affect retailers’ footfall. It is obvious from our research that people do still like going into store to shop, but it just isn’t as accessible as online shopping is.

“To save the high street many retailers need to ensure that they are thinking innovatively about how to draw customers in with clearer in-store stock checks, more staff and extended hours during busy periods. The reason why so many retailers are struggling with their stores is because consumer shopping habits are changing and the high street needs to change with it, creating a more community-led atmosphere with more accessibility and variety for everyone.”