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UK high street outlets threatened as e-commerce grows

30 March 2011 - 10:28 by Simon Crisp

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Thousands of high street retailers and indeed whole high street shopping areas are being put under pressure by safe shopping online, as UK consumers change their habits in order to save money.

Three thousand five hundred high streets across the UK are now considered to be at risk, since only 10 per cent are within what retailers identify as prime locations for shopping. Rising costs, falling consumer spending and the obvious benefits of online shopping are causing concern for many firms, according to industry analyst, Kurt Salmon.

Mr Salmon pointed out that retailers were able to get by in more prosperous periods even if sales were slow, but in the modern market there has been a shift in costs facing high street stores and in certain cases, the sales can no longer make up the difference to a worthwhile degree.

Experts believe that many retailers who have traditionally focused on the high street will have to up their games, offering safe shopping online and multichannel services which will engage the consumer and be far more specialised than in the past.

The result could be in-store experiences which are drastically improved with better services while the online element is weighted equally and tuned to make sure that it remains competitive.

Eighty per cent of all retail sales in the UK are still attributable to the high street, but there is concern that retailers will start to pull out of areas which are deemed to be less high profile, rather than working on their far flung assets to make them even more appealing.

Mr Salmon is one of many insiders who believe that the high street and the world of e-commerce can exist hand in hand, although convincing retailers of this argument may prove to be difficult.