Inconsistent reports on high street recovery fuel uncertainty


Reports released yesterday have offered conflicting evidence on the recovery of Britain‘s high streets. One survey, carried out by UK ‘e-tailer‘ BrandAlley, has revealed that shoppers are continuing to fall out of love with the high street. 48 per cent of shoppers have expressed frustration at being unable to purchase current season stock, in particular clothes and accessories for summer holidays.

This has resulted in 80 per cent of shoppers turning to the internet to satisfy their needs, and 75 per cent of those surveyed believe their preferred channel of shopping in the future will be online.

Melissa Littler, Marketing Director at BrandAlley, said: “Consumers need to have access to collections that offer year round solutions, particularly with the weather we have here in the UK… It is important for high street stores to reconsider their buying tactics if they want to keep up with consumer demands”.

The Visa Expenditure Index, however, has reported that UK consumer spending has increased for the eleventh month in a row, growth largely driven by spending on the high street. Face-to-face spending was up 2.4 per cent compared to August last year, in comparison to online spending which actually fell by 1.6 per cent.

Kevin Jenkins, UK MD at Visa Europe, said: “The high street overall has had a good month, bringing cheer back to bricks and mortar retailers. Consumers turned out in force with clothing and footwear performing particularly well, no doubt due to reasonable weather and end of summer sales”.

Another report by the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) has showed that shopping centres are leading the recovery, filling empty shops at a faster rate than town centres. The BCSC‘s data shows a year-on-year improvement of 0.8 per cent in vacancy rate (242 fewer empty shops in shopping centres) across Britain.

Unsurprisingly, the South East shows the greatest reduction in the number of empty shops in England with a 3.7 per cent change, but London made a below-average improvement at 0.6 per cent. Another surprising finding was the number of independent retailers with stores in Britain‘s shopping centre: “Contrary to popular opinion, independent retailers now account for one out of every two shops in British shopping centres. We expect this to increase over the next six months as more and more shopping centre owners look to vary what they are offering to their shoppers”.

It seems the on-going debate surrounding the decline of the high street and how to stop this is set to continue for some time yet.


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