New research from PricewaterhouseCoopers has found that, during 2011, the UK high street lost 14 chain retail stores per day. The annual loss of 5,268 stores was blamed on a number of factors, including the growing number of consumers shopping online.
The research, which examined the retail change across the 500 biggest town centres in the United Kingdom, found that declining consumer numbers were responsible for the growing number of store closures. A fall in consumer confidence, the diversification of out-of-town shopping centres and the growth of online shopping were all blamed for the decline in high street stores.
Indeed, Christmas saw a record number of consumers choosing to shop online. A report from the price-comparison website Kelkoo stated that overall high street spending dropped 2.1 per cent over Christmas, compared to a 16.4 per cent increase in online shopping across the festive period. Meanwhile, Interactive Media in Retail Group stated that £184 million had be spent online on the 25th December.
The news regarding the high street decline came after a government report, penned by retail marketing consultant Mary Portas, highlighted the need for stores to tempt shoppers back to town centres. Portas’ report was heavily criticised in some quarters due to its failure to address the growing popularity of ecommerce.
Speaking in December, Anton Gething, co-founder and product director for nToklo commented:
“The advent of online retailing, whether on the Internet, mobile or through social media, has opened a huge market for many retailers. However, there still exists a disconnect between the brick and mortar stores and the online world, which has yet to be successfully bridged.
“It is not as simple as finding a way for physical retail outlets to exist, but about better integration of all the customer engagement channels. Better integration between online and offline is a must if retailers are to succeed.”