Retail Trends: 5 ways the UK’s high streets are changing

According to a report by PwC, a record net 1,234 stores disappeared from Britain’s top 500 high streets in the first half of this year, with a total of 2,868 store closures – that’s the equivalent of 16 per day and the highest on record for five years.

So what are the trends and habits that are causing these dramatic changes?

1. A record number of high street chains are closing down stores or going into administration

In a recent blog article by the BBC Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said:

“The decline in store numbers in the first half of 2019 shows that there’s been no let-up in the changing ways that people shop and the cost pressures affecting High Street operators.”

High Street retailers continue to face growing competition from online operators such as Amazon, making it harder to pay their rents and other overheads, such as a rising minimum wage and business rates. It has led to big names such as Toys R Us going into administration, while others such as Topshop-owner Arcadia, Debenhams and New Look have announced large-scale closures.

2. Job losses

Another article by the BBC  says that from March 2016 to 2019, UK retail lost 106,000 jobs according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Those figures are based on data from the Office for National Statistics.

3. Voice: AI powered services and devices

According to research from Mobile Marketing Magazine earlier this year, 22% of UK households now own a voice-controlled digital home assistant such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home. This is double on the 11% figure recorded in 2017. Furthermore, according to EY’s latest digital home report, 41% of households plan to own one in the next five years.

4. A surge in Instagram shopping

Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) has come into its own as a major retail player since its inception in 2006 with 800m active monthly users and 500m active daily users. Research undertaken by reports that the platform holds 5m active business profiles. Instagram also report that:

  • 70% of users follow a business on Instagram
  • 60% discover new products on Instagram
  • 75 percent of users will take an action after seeing a business post such as visit a website, search, shop or tell a friend.

5. The rise of ecommerce

Online spending (Amazon, Google, Paypal, Etsy) has risen significantly over the last few years. Consumers are spending their disposable income on lifestyle and non-materialistic based goods such as theatre tickets, dining out, holidays and other experience-related purchases. As a consequence, the high street has felt the impact. 

If you have any concerns or would like further advice please get in touch with a member of our retail team on 01903 234094.