Shopping shake-up

31 May 2013
It looks like it is grim news for the high street. Despite plenty of incentives and campaigns to save local shops, nothing seems to be working. A report out this week claims that one in five – more than 60,000 stores across the country – will close over the next five years. The study, from the Centre for Retail Research, said shops are facing a crisis from falling consumer spending and the rising cost of doing business. It predicts that 22 per cent of high street stores will have closed by 2018, leading to 316,000 job losses. This comes in the same week that Mary Portas’s scheme to revitalise ailing high streets has failed to stop the rot.  The High Street Innovation Fund, which was launched last year, following a detailed report by the “Queen of Shops”, has seen an increase in empty shops in 10 out of the 12 towns selected for the government’s £1.2 million scheme. The report revealed health and beauty, pharmacy and DIY shops will suffer the most closures. In contrast, supermarket numbers were expected to increase by 10 per cent in the next five years. As fewer people shop in stores, online retail is set to account for 21.5 per cent of total retail sales by 2018, nearly double the current amount. It also recognised a rising trend for a ‘click and collect’ service, where the customer buys online and collects it from a chosen store. The report recognises that the way we shop has changed a lot over the years. But it poses more questions than it answers. Is this the end of the high street or will online shopping peak? Nobody really knows as yet, but the report suggests radical changes need to be made by all those involved to preserve what is best in retailing.
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