High street retailers benefitting from convenience factor

Britain’s high streets are adapting to meet the changing demands of customers, according to a recent report from the University of Southampton.

Commissioned by the Government’s Future High Streets Forum, the report revealed how consumers are showing signs of preference towards high street convenience stores, rather than out-of town retail parks and superstores.

We previously discussed the revival of the British high street on this blog and the study not only shows that the rejuvenation is underway, but also suggests that it will continue.

Specialist retailers such as artisanal bakers, butchers and coffee and tea makers are enjoying somewhat of a resurgence, while convenience stores are expected to account for a quarter of the entire grocery market by 2019, with market share for superstores falling from 42% to around 35%.

Online shopping, along with the economic downturn, was seen as the death knell for physical stores, but it seems that many stores are now embracing the internet to boost business. Shoppers are increasingly buying online and then collecting in store, leading to an influx of click-and-collect businesses filling vacant retail space.

The convenience of having everything in close proximity on the high street is clearly appealing to shoppers. Clicking and collecting can be preferable to missing a home delivery and high street shops can be easier to reach than out of town centres.

Another interesting find from the report is the news that high streets with more cafes, restaurants and bars are enjoying a larger number of traffic and for a longer period of time. The sense of community on a high street with a blend of independent and traditional stores and food and drink outlets is proving to be a real draw; and was something heavily discussed at the Place West London Conference in 2014.

We recently spoke to Matt Clarke, a director at Wycombe based estate agents Chandler Garvey, who spoke to us about retail space in his area: “I just completed a report on the retail availability in the town and during the time that took to complete the report, which wasn’t that long, it was amazing to the see the number of empty or vacant properties taken. There’s a lot more interest in them now.”

It seems that is no longer a secret that high street retail is starting to thrive again. The combination of economic recovery, smarter and more community focused high streets and the merging of the online and physical shopping worlds seem to be a breath of fresh air to the high street.

As stated in the report, expect to see more online retailers with physical stores, a strong influence on click-and-collect and hopefully more shoppers spending time (and money) on the high street.

Follow this link to read the full report from the University of Southampton

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