Small independents versus big chains; bricks and mortar versus online; Bill Grimsey v Mary Portas: the debate about the future of the high street is nothing if not divisive. But safeguarding the future health of our high streets means moving away from the confrontational approach so beloved of UK media to focus instead on partnerships.
So why don't we spend money with our local independent retailers? Why do we insist on hitting Debenhams for our clothes, Sainsbury's for our food and B&Q for our homeware or furniture? We all know the dire situation that independent business owners face yet we do nothing. Does it come down to price? Yes, maybe it does in some cases, but I think there's more to it than that.
Research in Q1 of this year by DestinationCMS looked at a range of major shopping destinations in Britain. Over 90% have websites that do not function properly on a mobile (despite more than 50% of all online traffic being from hand-held devices). Not one has a comprehensive listing of their businesses' offers and promotions - and not one operates effective social media engagement seven days-a-week
As businesses and high-street retailers join the race to reinvent themselves, an analysis of consumer loyalty trends in Britain over the four years since 2009 shows that the days of pleasure shopping and retail therapy are behind us - as bargain hunting and rampant discounting have become the norm in a tough economy.
The warning for Blockbusters, HMV, Jessops, Comet, and whichever major high-street company will fall into administration next, was issued four years ago. Woolworths was there as a very early example of failing to adapt to the demands of customers and should have served as a wake-up call to other high street chains.