Shoppers in the UK fear their high streets will soon be lost forever following the latest news of store closures.
Nearly two thirds of people surveyed by KIS Finance were worried that the high street would disappear in the next 10 years
Northern cities have been worst hit by far with store closures, and food and drink, value and fashion brands are predicted to be among the next victims.
The research showed that if town centres had free parking and were more easily accessible, consumers would be more likely to shop in-store.
‘Fragile trading conditions’
The top cities impacted by store closures in 2018 were Leeds, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Bradford, Cardiff, Doncaster, Leicester and Manchester.
James Child, Retail Analyst at EG, said it was likely the bad news would continue.
“The raft of CVAs 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,” he continued.
“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 over stretched markets begin to weed out weaker offers as retail Darwinism bites.”
‘The high street needs to evolve’
When asked what would tempt them back to the high street, the top answers from those polled were:
- More staff to ensure that the experience is quicker (41%)
- Clearer stock check in store (34%)
- 24-hour service so that you can shop at any time (27%)
- Self-checkout service to avoid queues (26%)
Holly Andrews, managing director at KIS Finance said, “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.”