The budget is out in a few weeks, with the High Street dying before our very eyes. What can be done to help retailers survive through to next year?
It wasn’t so long ago that we were urging people to support the high street as it came to our attention that many of our country’s biggest and most well-known stores could be no more this time next year. Stores like John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser have all admitted that sales are slumping and with many of them not taking part in pre-Christmas sales due to the lack of finances and confidence in consumer spending, many people have been left wondering just how long these prestigious stores have left?
Figures out today will only fuel these ‘administration’ rumours as it has been announced that in-store sales have dropped for the eighth consecutive month in many high street stores.
The bleak retail figures also come on the back of news that large high street fashion chain Coast has collapsed this week, costing hundreds of jobs.
With Christmas just around the corner the high street should be coming into its own now, but unfortunately it is subdued with industry insiders believing that this may prove to be the worst year in recent times for the high street to endure.
Sales in shops slumped 2.3 per cent lower than sales seen this time 12 months ago and homeware stores took a particularly big beating with sales dropping nearly 4 and a half per cent on the same time last year.
So, what’s causing the high street all the problems? Naturally, many would say people haven’t got as much disposable income as what they used to have to spend in these stores – and that is true to some extent.
But if this was the main cause of the high street’s woes, why has internet spending gone up?
Goods bought online has gone up nearly 12 per cent compared to this time last year. This shows that people are still spending the money, they are just spending it in a different way.
It comes as no surprise to learn that the internet is the biggest factor in the apparent downfall of the high street. People can get all they need at the click of a button and in this day and age where people seemingly have less time on their hands, this proves all important.
The high street’s plight isn’t helped by the times we find ourselves in either. In little over five months’ time we will be out of the EU and well underway with Brexit. As of yet, nobody knows what this will mean for family budgets and household finances, so people naturally are being cautious and are not shopping in stores at the rate they maybe would have at this time of year previously.
Christmas is only a couple of months away but even this seemingly cannot entice people to spend. People are quite rightly being careful ahead of the uncertain times in March, but in the meantime something needs to be down to reassert the importance of the high street and bring back customers. The high street is an invaluable part of the UK economy and is an integral part of the British culture, so to see it suffer in this way is hard - changes need to be made to lure people back again.
If the high street continues to fail this will have a marked impact on the UK economy, something we cannot afford to let happen at such a crunch time for the country. In the last year alone we’ve said goodbye to Toys R Us, Coast, Poundworld and Maplin. We need to reverse this trend and protect the high street for all of our sakes.