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Online shopping habits reshape UK high streets

20 March 2015 - 12:37 by Graham Miller

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While certain types of bricks and mortar shops are disappearing from high streets across the UK, the rise of shopping online is helping a new set of outlets to re-envision what town centres can offer visitors, according to a new study from Local Data Company and PwC.

The biggest losers as a result of the e-commerce boom have been mobile phone shops, which are being expunged from British high streets at a faster rate than any other type of retail outlet. Building societies, pawnbrokers and even women's clothing shops are also in decline, with more and more money and fashion transactions being handled via safe shopping online.

Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, the rise in the number of charity shops opened across the UK has been steep, with lower rental prices for retail spaces helping good causes to set up in places that were previously inaccessible to them.

Coffee shops have also experienced major growth in the past year, while the third biggest increase in high street presence was registered by vaping shops, where people can go to buy and partake in e-cigarettes.

Take-aways and restaurants have also become more common, with the high street repurposed by companies of this kind, to offer people the experiences they cannot get on the internet.

So-called traditional retailers were hit with 765 store closures in 2014, while the service retail sector, which includes things like travel agents and opticians, also suffered from a sharp decline in the number of outlets available to consumers.

While there will, no doubt, be people who are upset by the changes that are happening on the high street, as more people use the internet to buy goods and services, the ultimate benefits will be felt once the bricks and mortar industry has settled into its new role.