The high street appears to be imploding, with a new retailer announcing store closures almost every week.
House of Fraser, citing a “tsunami” of challenges, is the latest to announce it will close 31 of its 59 shops putting 6,000 jobs at risk.
It is just the latest in a string of other high street names to announce the same.
Poundworld, which also announced it expects to fall into administration putting more than 5,000 jobs on the line, follows Marks & Spencer, Mothercare and New Look in announcing closures.
So what’s happening?
Retail analysts told HuffPost UK that high street retailers were suffering from a whole range of issues - from the dip in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote (which has made imports more expensive), to higher business rates, squeezed consumer spending and the rise in online shopping.
Eight in ten (82%) of people aged 21-34, according to Worldpay, shop online as well as in store – leaving retailers with a big high street presence struggling to adapt to this new generation of spenders.
Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, told HuffPost UK that while the high street was struggling from all of these factors, it was not “falling off a cliff” just yet.
He said there are more shops than needed on Britain’s saturated high streets, coupled with the fact younger generations spend 1457 minutes a week on their smartphones - and that some of that will be spent browsing online shops. He also said younger people prefer to spend disposable income on experiences rather than material things. “So in a way, it’s just evolution that we’re losing some of them,” he said.
Chris Fowler from the Local Data Company told HuffPost UK that younger shoppers did feel connected to high street stores – but typically only when they were offered a great customer experience. He cited the relative buoyancy of local independent shops and cafes as an example of this.
HuffPost UK asked younger shoppers if they’d care if big names disappeared from the high street.
Ricky Vann, a 26 year-old from Buckinghamshire, told HuffPost UK he shops both online and on the high street, which he favours for clothing, homeware and gifts.
“I visit M&S on a regular basis and feel closer to this than I do with House of Fraser,” he said. “At M&S, I feel I’ll always get a good quality of customer service. They’re a staple of major high streets and each of them has a similar feel. For food especially, I’d rather spend money with M&S for lunch than any other retailers.
When it comes to fashion, however, he thinks M&S has never really “adapted” to the times compared to its competitors and as a result doesn’t ever consider spending money on clothes in store.
And when it comes to House of Fraser, he said many of the brands can be purchased elsewhere so he has“no need to visit the store”. He said: “Without the store offering something different or a reason to visit, I wouldn’t choose to go in to browse.”
Helen Williams, 27, from Tunbridge Wells, said: “I think it’s sad that we are having empty sites on the high street. [It] looks bleak. I particularly like M&S for its heritage.
“The high street should probably invest more in one-off events and brand collaboration to get more footfall from [the] younger generation.”
Correction: This article originally stated that millennials spend 457 minutes a week on their smartphones, this number has been corrected to 1457.