Shopping in the UK high street is changing as I am sure you are aware. Lots of our UK high street shops are empty and boarded up as more and more go out of business. Even long-established shops and chains like Empire Stores and Woolworths, (who now only have an online presence), Borders Books, Peacocks and Principles, Virgin Media, Focus DIY, M.F.I., etc, etc. the list is getting longer week by week. There are many issues, such as the high cost of overheads such as business rates as well as competition from the supermarkets. One thing I never particularly liked about most town centres was the presence of the big national chains. It made every town centre alike. One reason for this is that they can afford the high overheads. Shopping in the UK is also susceptible to ravages of the UK climate. Customers are also being hit by the higher cost of fuel to drive to UK shops and parking when they get there. It is no wonder that UK shops are struggling. Massive new UK shopping precincts are becoming more popular as people enjoy the convenience of free parking, plus dozens of stores all in one place, but we may have to drive further to get there and many people do not have the luxury of a large car for them and all their families plus shopping Vitamin Shoppe.
Shopping online is often a welcome alternative. Sit at home on your computer and comfortably browse or search all the uk shops you like. Delivery will take only a few days at most to your own front door. Some supermarkets are already delivering groceries to our doors with great success along with one or two ‘ready meals’ companies. Other advantages of online UK shopping are the massive choice that you have at your fingertips. You can quickly find things that would otherwise have taken a long time searching for in the high street stores or even in a massive shopping precinct. They may, indeed only be available online. How often have you been high street shopping and been given the run-around? or told that “we can order it for you, come back tomorrow” or “next week”?
There are, however difficulties of ordering from a computer screen. Without the physical object in front of you, it can be difficult to get a real ‘feel’ for it. Colours on the screen may not be an accurate representation of a purchase, especially a painting or print. Even the true size of an object can be difficult to judge. Unless you are a computer wizz searching can have its problems too. The long list of results will need combing and interpreting and how do you know which UK shops you can trust?
What we need is a collection of verified UK shopping sites, including all the top high street stores, that people would know that they can trust. First of all they would be all UK shopping sites and not US or any other location. That would simplify the search for a start. It would have to be easy to navigate in order to quickly find what you needed and compare various UK merchants prices for the same item. If these conditions were met then they would surely be a huge threat to high street shopping as we know it. Maybe the future will be a compromise. Perhaps we will do much of our shopping online, including groceries, then go shopping for fun in the high street, just to browse and buy a few things that take our fancy, spend some time in the street cafes, maybe have time to spare to meet up with friends and not have so much to carry home at the end of the day.
So I don’t think that the massive increase in online sales will lead to a total end to high street shopping, but rather a shift to a new balance of power, so to speak. I do however think that shops will have to adapt to the new challenge and deliver what is expected in order to survive. I’ll leave that to the market researchers while I focus on my web sites. Happy shopping.