A new report from the British Retail Consortium states that High Street vacancy has hit its highest rate in 15 months.
The report found that the town centre vacancy rate is now at 11.3 per cent, and while many are pointing towards the internet as a key driver behind the demise of the High Street, others are not so quick to lay all of the blame on e-shopping.
Dan Wagner, Chairman and CEO of mPowa, a point of sales device that enables credit and debit card payments to be made on the go, said: “Consumers have become more demanding in the way they purchase goods than ever before. Sophisticated mobile handsets and tablets mean shoppers have a myriad of choices on how, what and when they buy. The challenge for the retailer is to ensure that they have a variety of platforms which allow them to purchase at the point when the customer is ready, wherever they might be. Many retailers who have not got a comprehensive multichannel strategy are suffering severe consequences as result.”
Wagner believes that High Street and online shopping must coexist in a smart multichannel retailing strategy, a statement that is backed up by recent research.
Researchers at Booz & Company have found that SMEs in the UK generate 48.8% of private-sector turnover and employ 59% of private-sector personnel. However, 25% say that basic digital awareness and skills hinder them in digital engagement.
Wagner continued, stating: “Whilst SMEs could stand to gain the most from online sales, their awareness remains poor. Bricks and mortar stores can’t afford to ignore the benefits that digital channels can deliver and if they can incorporate this into their current approach to retailing, they can become much better prepared for the modern shopper.”