Nearly three quarters of shoppers have noticed an increase in the number of shops closing in their local high streets, whilst around half have noticed an increase in the number of coffee shops and charity shops, according to new research from shopper insight specialists, Shoppercentric.
When asked what changes they had noticed in the last year on the High Street they used most often, 71% said more stores had closed whilst 39% said there were now fewer shops overall. People in the East of England (77%) and Scotland (72%) had noticed the change most of all, compared to only 62% of shoppers in London.
Shoppers living in London were much less likely to have noticed store closures, a reduction in chain stores or stores overall, suggesting that the experience for London-based retailers and shoppers could be quite different elsewhere in the country.
However, 53% of shoppers surveyed said that more coffee shops had opened and 49% more charity shops. Almost a quarter (23%) said there were now fewer chain stores. The prevalence of new coffee shops was most noticeable to shoppers in the South West (61%) compared to just 40% in Scotland.
9% of respondents had noticed more independent stores; 7% more packaging-free stores, and 6% fewer restaurants. 10% of those surveyed had noticed no change.
“Whilst these observed changes seem to support talk of the demise of the High Street, UK shoppers still see real value in bricks and mortar stores, and the changes to the High Street are going to concern them,” explains Jamie Rayner, Managing Director, Shoppercentric.
“As a nation we may well have embraced online shopping like almost no other globally, but there remains a clear role for real stores.”
When asked to list the best three things about actual shops, shoppers surveyed mentioned the following:
· 79% seeing / touching / experiencing products before they buy them
· 57% seeing the shape or style before they buy
· 32% making comparisons between products
“UK shoppers recognise that real stores can have some good real staff and that going to a store can make getting hold of or exchanging products easier and quicker,” continues Rayner. “Compare that to the world of automated customer service calls, chatbots and 12-hour delivery windows, and it’s easy to see why shoppers are unlikely to be quite so convinced the high street is dead.”
“Change is very clearly happening in the retail sector, but if shoppers can get quality and choice, at a fair price, in an environment that encourages them to enjoy shopping, then they will come back. There is plenty of room on every high street for positive retail experiences – it just takes a bit more thought from the businesses involved than it used to,” concludes Rayner.