7000 high street stores shut last year defeated by the rise of online sales. With Christmas on the horizon and with experts predicting a £2 billion rise in online sales, it makes us question the future of the high street; “What are the benefits of shopping in-store versus online” and “What lies ahead?” With the popularity of social media and online shopping increasing with phenomenal speed, what is it that makes students still want to spend on the high street and what can high street stores do to compete at this time of year?
Many student-aimed shops, such as New Look, are key examples of retailers who are fighting back; introducing concessions such as nail bars to increase shoppers’ dwell time in-store. London’s Oxford Circus Topshop also offers a similar service and combined with in store student discounts, they are onto a winner. The new trend of pop-up shops also provide hope for the high street as retailers can test out the market and intrigued customers are incentivised to visit, not only by curiosity but also due to the time pressure of seeing it before it goes.
If companies could use this idea of transforming a fairly normal experience into something a little more special then it would be much more likely that customers would visit the store rather than shop online. Furthermore, if stores can marry both online activities with tangible in-store promotions then they are onto a multi-platform winner. Taking the best parts from either platform and harnessing a fluid campaign that incorporates both face-to-face and online interaction is sure to create results. It’s true that students may want the instant gratification and the relative ease of online shopping, however as many businesses are learning, it won’t replace the want for a ‘personal touch’ and the opportunity to physically interact.
Shops on the high street need to focus on the customer experience, thinking outside of their set walls, partnering up with complimentary services and creating something special. In the words of Bob Dylan, “you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin”. If the high street can evolve fast enough to incorporate all platforms it will maintain its place in modern consumerism.