The death of the High Street - Has it been exagerated?

Mark T Jones

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Nov 4, 2015
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The death of the High Street has become something of a chorus during lockdown / Covid restrictions.

In reality it has been 'predicted' since the 1980s, first with out-of-town retail parks, then edge-of-town supermarkets selling ever-widening ranges of goods then with that there internet..

The big names that make headlines hae actually just had the final push ater decades of decline, failure to invest in brand, multiple owners/asset strippers, no real evolution. Though empty units on that scale do have a very negative impact in the overall retail environment.

My personal take is that, for the most part High Streets won't die - but they will, by necessity change.

It will vary a lot between retail areas, but my personal vision of tomorrow's High Street is:

Some will disappear as shopping areas and become mixed office/resi space.

Some will remain as big brand retail areas - a kind of hybrid between retail parks & designer villages.

Others will become effectively leisure destinations incorporating quirky, independent retail, food halls and entertainment.

Both personally & professionally it is the last one that interests me most.

What are your visions of tomorrow's High Street?
 

Darren_Ssc

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Mar 1, 2019
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There will be a few innovations, some of which had already begun, such as big brands using shops more for display than actual retail, mixed use taking advantage of click & collect, more leisure-based businesses, etc.

However, I think the legacy retailers, just bumping along the bottom, are more of a handicap than empty premises because they will drag down an area and make investment by other businesses an unattractive proposition.
 
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Mark T Jones

Business Member
Nov 4, 2015
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Hampshire
www.kickstartbiz.co.uk
There will be a few innovations, some of which had already begun, such as big brands using shops more for display than actual retail, mixed use taking advantage of click & collect, more leisure-based businesses, etc.

However, I think the legacy retailers, just bumping along the bottom, are more of a handicap than empty premises because they will drag down an area and make investment by other businesses an unattractive proposition.

Indeed - 'experience' retail has fast outgrown piles of goods on shelves.

Yet Primark stays resolutely premise & stock based with great success.
 
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Darren_Ssc

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I wonder what the secrets are? My guess is 80% know you customer & have an excellent supply chain. (it's definitely not in the quality of the merchandise)

Sure, they give the customer what they want, cheap, fashionable clothing. The established players also want to sell cheap fashionable clothing but at premium prices. No surprises they struggle to do that.
 
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Irontoe

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Jan 14, 2021
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I keep reading about the death of the high street, it was supposed to die when home shopping first arrived through the publication of the Gratton catalogue, then it was going to die because of the rise of out of town shopping areas, then it was huge supermarkets selling everything under one roof, then the internet.
There’s an awful lot of people that actually like shopping, it’s a social event, they like browsing, stopping for a coffee, meeting their friends, trying things on etc. That’s not going to go away.

Sure, when things reopen they’ll be a few gaps in the high street but they won’t be there long, newer, fresher upstarts will fill them.

I mentioned something similar in another thread.

I suspect it will be the uniform clone town high streets which will suffer the most. Those with a wide range of independents will thrive.
 
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Irontoe

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Jan 14, 2021
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It would help if local government and town councils kept their nose out as much as possible of course.
Our local authority has recently bought the town shopping centre and has grand plans to modernise it. All of their plans seem to be reducing the amount of retail space and parking and filling it up with cheap homes and flats. Health centres, gyms, local clubs are all going to have to move out of the town centre so that their plan to bring more people into town can come to fruition. I can’t explain how that will work either.
 
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antropy

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I think Covid has fast-forwarded the decline of the high street but I don't think the high street will die as such. I think the big will get bigger and the small will perish. You are seeing it already with bigger brands buying up struggling companies and I think this will continue. Alex
 
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UKSBD

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    Ban all cars, have people living above every shop, have awnings on every shop, have things happening in the streets.
     
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    UKSBD

    Moderator
  • Business Listing
    It would help if local government and town councils kept their nose out as much as possible of course.
    Our local authority has recently bought the town shopping centre and has grand plans to modernise it. All of their plans seem to be reducing the amount of retail space and parking and filling it up with cheap homes and flats. Health centres, gyms, local clubs are all going to have to move out of the town centre so that their plan to bring more people into town can come to fruition. I can’t explain how that will work either.

    Sounds brilliant idea to me, if they do it right.
     
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    Mr D

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    Feb 12, 2017
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    The death of the high street started in the 19th century, the first mail order with a catalogue (mail order is many centuries older itself).

    Its still dying - the dying has accelerated somewhat because of the virus. Perhaps the patient will eventually change its habits and stay alive. Or more likely not - instead they call for a level playing field. Like that would solve their problems.
    Sure, a level playing field - 24 hour availability, cheap prices, ease of browsing, ease of payment. Ability to return goods for a full refund.

    Oh wait, turns out the shop owners don't want a level playing field, what they want is online sales to be as expensive, hard to pay for, hard to find goods and inability to return goods as the shops do. And only open 9 to 5.
    Thats what they mean by level playing field. Not consumer driven, self interest drives it.
     
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    Mr D

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    Ban all cars, have people living above every shop, have awnings on every shop, have things happening in the streets.

    Tried that, split the town in half. Have to drive around to reach the other side of town to park up for shopping. Its a lot cheaper to catch the bus to a nearby city than drive a third of the distance into town and park up.
     
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    Mr D

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    Feb 12, 2017
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    It would help if local government and town councils kept their nose out as much as possible of course.
    Our local authority has recently bought the town shopping centre and has grand plans to modernise it. All of their plans seem to be reducing the amount of retail space and parking and filling it up with cheap homes and flats. Health centres, gyms, local clubs are all going to have to move out of the town centre so that their plan to bring more people into town can come to fruition. I can’t explain how that will work either.

    Yes always fun when the local council buy a commercial building. They have no clue about running it - ours made big losses as they often do with commercial enterprises.
     
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    MarkOnline

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    Apr 25, 2020
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    Entice the independents back, the high streets are too sterile with multiples who have the same offer, the same look.

    Street buskers, experience shopping. Sort out the decaying empty shops, clean them up.
    Put small wooden cabins in front of them and have the small independents in them offering a specialised offer that adds character. Move away from the cheap tat, the big boys have that market segment sewn up. You cant compete on a level playingfield with the big boys so why bother. Niche highstreets, incentives for grouping trades together, a clothing quarter, a jewellery quarter etc.

    It will survive but has to evolve
     
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    Mr D

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    Feb 12, 2017
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    Entice the independents back, the high streets are too sterile with multiples who have the same offer, the same look.

    Street buskers, experience shopping. Sort out the decaying empty shops, clean them up.
    Put small wooden cabins in front of them and have the small independents in them offering a specialised offer that adds character. Move away from the cheap tat, the big boys have that market segment sewn up. You cant compete on a level playingfield with the big boys so why bother. Niche highstreets, incentives for grouping trades together, a clothing quarter, a jewellery quarter etc.

    It will survive but has to evolve

    You want to set up in business in a small wooden cabin go right ahead.
    How much do your products need to be seen in order to be purchased?

    Some retailers - the stock has to be put in front of customers in such a way as to get sales. Too small an area and can't fit disabled in, can't fit many customers in and people wander off elsewhere.
    Small wooden cabin may suit newspaper sellers with a sweet and cakes selection. Doesn't suit a jewelry shop very well.

    The cheap tat - the big boys have far from sewn up. Way too much for them to do that.

    Yes agreed don't compete on a level playing field with the big boys, you don't want a level playing field. It would disadvantage small businesses to try and have a level playing field with the big boys, the small businesses would lose advantages.

    Niche high streets? Wow, you must really want rent and rates to come down. Niches can be way too small.
     
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    japancool

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    Easy way to fix the high street - ban all online sales.

    Niche high streets can work really well if you have enough footfall. Portobello Road, Tottenham Court Road, Carnaby Street etc. But I don't know about outside of London.

    As for eateries, they're all bloody chain eateries now. I can do without a high street dominated by Pret A Manger, Giraffe, Yo Sushi, TGI Fridays etc. Like shops, I want independents. The food's better.
     
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