How is the growth of online shopping affecting high street retailers?

is online shopping causing a decline in high street retailers? the future of the British high street Are British high streets in danger? is online shopping better than shopping on the high street? What are the benefits of shopping on the high street? does online shopping make life easier? is online shopping killing the high street? do we have enough time for high street shopping?

How many times have you ordered a new outfit online from the comfort of your own home, dangerously quickly and easily? Even the best of us have succumbed to the temptation of an impulse internet purchase, with around 70% of internet users having shopped online - and who can really blame us? Online retail saves consumers time, energy and often money, as well as offering a huge range of products at the click of a mouse. However, as a ‘nation of shopkeepers’, can the British ever entirely give up our beloved high street, or do these retailers and town centres simply need to modify their methods of enticing customers?

In the last decade British high streets have changed considerably, not least as a result of the recession which saw both retailers and consumers feeling the pinch, however the high streets have struggled to make a significant comeback for more than just economic reasons. Experts claim that high streets are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of problems contributing to their decline, from inflation resulting from the Brexit vote to an over-saturation of shops and restaurants, and even things as simple as modern tastes and priorities shifting.

Despite the accessibility and practicality of online retail, there is something quintessentially British about a day out shopping in the town centre. Undoubtedly the activity is not just about the shopping and can also act as a means of bonding with friends and family, a way of taking a break from modern technology or even just an excuse for a bit of fresh air and a bite to eat while you’re out. Additionally, one of the biggest pet peeves of online clothes shopping can be avoided as you are able to see in person and try on the items you’re interested in before you take them home, rather than having to go to the hassle of taking a guess at which size will be best for you, waiting days for the item to arrive, only to then find yourself dissatisfied and having to go out to return it.

While the point of shopping from the comfort of your own home may be defeated if you decide you want to return the item, there are still undeniable benefits to online retail. How many times have you been up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep and trawling through site after site of products? Unlike the high street, the internet has no opening hours, so you’re not confined to the schedules of others and can shop whenever, wherever you want. Likewise, you are required to physically search through hundreds of items to find what you want, and that’s if the shop even has it in stock, whereas online we are able to refine our search terms and filter out products that are less relevant to us, meaning the shopping experience is able to be tailored to each individual consumer, saving time and money.

So it seems with online shopping and high street retailers, each has their respective advantages and drawbacks. Experts believe rather than becoming redundant, high streets will have to adapt to the changing consumer climate in Britain, creating an overall retail experience that includes more than just shopping in order to entice the modern customer.

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Tom Jeffrey

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Role: Head of E-Commerce and Development

My primary role is to oversee all online development and maximise online sales. At Jules B I am always striving to deliver strategies targeted for long term online growth and development, working on website building and launch, web analytics, online marketing, traffic development and the management of staff to meet targets and push the limits of the business.


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