With British retails gems such as HMV and Blockbuster dropping like flies, it may seem like the UK high street is on its way out. However, in the spirit of the glass being half-full, we suggest that this is not the death of the high street after all, but instead, simply its evolution.
Customers are changing
While the increasing power of online presence may cast fear into the hearts of many a high street retailer, this shouldn't necessarily have to be the case. In fact, it may be as simple as realising that the needs of the average customer are changing - a customer who isn't afraid to shop around online to find the best price possible, instead of simply buying an item direct from the store floor. As a result, we could see a lean towards an emphasis on quality over quantity, with high street shops becoming more like showrooms for their online products. This could also spell a more bespoke customer experience, with everything from more aesthetically pleasing interiors, competitively lower prices to fewer staff to save costs - who are instead more knowledgeable as a result.
Local is global
The growth of the online market can prove great news for local business, which is in turn improving the outlook of the local high street. Before the rise of online shopping, local shops and boutiques were limited in their audience, building a reputation only by word of mouth. The internet changes all of that, with online collectives such as Miinto bringing local boutiques to a wider audience. Having recently launched in the UK and Ireland, Miinto collates the country's most unique boutiques, making them accessible online to a UK-wide audience. This isn't an isolated occurrence, with internet presence spelling great success for previously limited businesses and, in turn, strengthening their high street existence.
Pop-ups are popping up
In a similar vein to online shopping, pop-up shops can also be a great asset to a seemingly flailing high street - although in the reverse way. Often given a human face to an online company, the idea is to give local producers and small online businesses a high street platform on which to sell their goods. This may be a more viable option for small businesses unable to take on an entire shop with a long-term commitment that could ultimately cause them to fail. Instead, a pop-up brings in custom and interest, attracting more shoppers into a town centre and helps to deliver long-term stability. The enterprise campaign StartUp Britain recently launched its pop-up shop to great success, giving six small retail businesses the opportunity to co-work an empty shop for two weeks at a time.
In light of these reasons, the outlook is decidedly more optimistic - proving that closures of celebrated companies such as HMV and Jessops are cause for reflection but not hesitation. Instead, we should celebrate how the evolution of customer needs and online presence is creating new UK-based global companies and is bringing British design, technology and creativity to the masses.