Figures released by the British Retail Consortium show that the number of high street shoppers in December 2015 was 2.2% down and there was a comparable decline in November. The greatest threat is the internet, £1 out of £5 was spent on line and shopping there increased by 15%.
Moving from the micro world to the macro one of National Rust I asked our very own Bob Tickler for his views and experiences which he is never backward in offering.
“Like many of my age” he said “I am a traditional shopper who likes to see his purchases, has a favourite store and enjoy personal service but when I look back at this week my experience is very negative:
M & S: in the absence of packaging and receipt they refused to exchange a shirt I bought that was the wrong size and misplaced in the display. They said this was company policy. I retorted with such policy little wonder the chief executive resigned and the group is struggling.
The White Company: an elderly assistant was laboriously typing with one finger into her computer my request for a different-sized picture frame. In the end my patience wore thin and instead I bought Polly her favouite Tea and Wild mint scented candle to leave for my next engagement.
PC World: they only had one Roberts radio in stock and no charger for reusable batteries. The service was offhand.
I then went onto Amazon. The process of buying a charger, a small cafetière for one with the added advantage of over 30 reviews and a coffee grinder for the beans of the Blue Mountain Blend I favour took less than 5 minutes and all were delivered by 10-30 the following morning.”
Bob’s experiences are common. More and more shoppers are not just deserting the high street to go online but use ‘click and connect’ or go to out of town malls where parking is easier. If you factor in the cost of business rates, which the government greedily impose as it brings is revenue of £31m, the weather unpredictability affecting clothes lines and an eventual interest rate hike, one wonders if the high street will survive at all.