The British High Street is facing a period of rapid change. Shifting tastes, pressure from online competitors and high costs are forcing shops to respond quickly to stay afloat. So, does this mean the end of the high street? Perhaps not, but it is vital that the industry maintains a flexible approach.
The last six months have been turbulent for retailers and they are facing multiple pressures. E-commerce has changed consumer habits and many people see online shopping as more convenient than visiting the high street.
Rising costs are also a challenge. Traditionally, retail is an employment-dense industry, and with the minimum wage rising each year, alongside pension contributions, it can be challenging to manage associated costs. Similarly, rent is rising on stores in towns and city centres.
However, according to Which, the story doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. While the high street is changing, if retailers can adapt to what consumers want, they can still triumph. It is predicted that the high street will become a place for entertainment, with fewer traditional stores and more social hubs.
It’s also worth noting that some have successfully merged their digital and offline offerings and are thriving. Apple, for example, offers a true-to-brand encounter whether on or offline.
Although the way we use our high street is changing, it is unlikely that these central hubs will disappear completely. Businesses need to adapt to reflect consumer’s lifestyle choices, providing value and experiences to stay relevant.
In times of substantial change, alternative finance can help. Invoice finance, asset finance and asset based lending can all offer retail companies the headroom required to make key strategic and structural changes.