What we can learn from the recent high street closures


Reading the news lately, it’s hard to avoid the barrage of stats coming at you in regard to the changes on the high street. This year alone we’ve seen 1,200 shops close, 7000 people lose their jobs and an estimated 15,000 more roles forecast to go still. The numbers by anyone’s standards are alarming and it’s clear to both business’ and shoppers that the high street is going through some dramatic changes.

There are a number of factors that have contributed to this shake-up on the high street, majority of which centre around economic factors such as high overheads, post-Brexit spending and accumulating corporate debt, however with the rise of the online marketplace and the deluge of entrepreneurs, the retail landscape is teaming with too many players, and with far less of the pie to go around it’s leaving some players on the British high street starving for patronage.

The stores that are on the downward spiral such as Poundland, House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer, never were seen to be innovating in their customer experience. Most of these brands are transaction focused, a quantity over quality experience, which to be fair was a business model that worked for them in the past, however with consumer generations changing and economic factors coming in to play, they’re inability to adapt quickly has seen them being left behind.

Brands that seem to be weathering the storm (excluding the online giants and their comparably low overheads) are the ones valuing experiences over transactions. Big brands names such as Nike, Sephora, Selfridges, Topshop, etc, are creating destination experiences through in-store tutorials, VR experiences, in-store workshops and health checks, however you don’t have to have these international big brand budgets to give your consumers something different. It’s about giving your customers an added layer of value, whether it be through collaborations with aligning brands to bring a multi-product retail experiences, or investing in activations and pop-up brand stores, the lesson we can take from the recent high street failings is blindingly clear; experience first, transaction second.