By Daniel Whytock, Down Your High Street
Over recent weeks there has been a lot of news about high street brands, takeovers and store closures. Most recently there was an announcement that BooHoo is taking over Debenhams and taking it online only – meaning that all the stores will close. And similarly, ASOS, another online only company, is buying the Miss Selfridge, TopShop and TopMan and the HIIT brands from Arcadia.
What does this mean for the future of retail businesses and for consumer buying habits?
Consumer choice and jobs will be most severely impacted by these changes. However independent shops will have the opportunity to prosper as consumers look for alternatives to the household names that have been acquired and taken online.
My prediction is that within five years we will see High Streets offering a more unique experience. Independent retailers will thrive as they are small enough to adapt quickly to changes, and with these large brands leaving the High Street, smaller retailer will be the ones offering consumers a place to shop in person – where they can talk to someone, feel and see the goods they want to purchase, and know that returns can be processed quickly and easily if needed.
Also, as we know shopping is a social activity for many people. This means that once the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted many people will be looking for that in-person experience to complement their online shopping and start going out to the shop again.
The Debenhams department store was founded in the 1700’s, one of the first ever to exist, so this is a very sad loss for the High Street. A department store, by definition, offers a variety of consumer goods in different areas of the store; each department focused on a different category. This is very much like an e-commerce store, although e-commerce offers you everything you need within a few seconds without the need to walk around. Debenhams becoming part of an online marketplace is somewhat inevitable.
Even with the rise of e-commerce, consumers wanting their shopping the very next day and at the best price, let’s not forget that human beings naturally desire physical experiences. I believe that this means that, so long as they adapt and evolve, retailer can still succeed on the high street. However, it will be the retailers that offer the best experience will be the ones that succeed on our high streets in the future, engaging with their customers and meeting their needs.
ABOUT DANIEL WHYTOCK
Daniel Whytock is CEO of DownYourHighStreet.com – a free to join, low commission online marketplace on a mission to create the world’s longest high street by connecting community with commerce and giving the Great British High Street an online presence. DownYourHighStreet.com hosts thousands of products that were previously unavailable online, from100s of independent retailers, allowing sellers to create or integrate their online presence saving them time and the costs traditionally associated with establishing a visible online presence. www.downyourhighstreet.com