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Retailers Must Strike The Right High Street/Online Balance

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The future of UK High Streets must be maintained by a more balanced mix of internet and town centre retail, say directors of, one of the country’s leading online shopping portals.

Growing fears that some of the UK’s town centres could be killed off by the continued trend towards e-tail have been strengthened in the last week by the administration of fashion chain Jane Norman, talk of Comet’s owners selling the business and the continued struggles of HMV. lists more than 4,000 online retailers, including such names as Amazon, Nike and Next.

Director Graham Miller said: “High Streets cannot be allowed to die, because they play such a huge part in the economies of towns and cities across the country. There is a balance to be found between online and High Street shopping.

“As well as reduced footfall translating into growing online trade, some outlets are talking of people visiting their stores to try out new technologies, then going home and buying them online at a cheaper price. This tells us two things; that the High Street needs to compete on price, and that there is also a role to be played as the showroom for websites. There are some things that people will not buy without trying them first, so perhaps the income of a website is justified in supplementing the brand’s High Street presence.

“Websites with the right level of attention to customer service and safety give excellent value for money and convenience, but established High Street names should see them as an extension of, not a competitor to, their existing offering.

“The balance that must be met is that these benefits of websites should not be devalued, yet the High Street must remain profitable and, if we are to see these areas thrive once more, then perhaps landlords must also take some of the pain, following years of rising rents.”