How is the UK High Street Changing?

Shoppers walking down a busy shopping street

The UK high street has witnessed significant changes in the past decade, adapting different aspects of their business models to make an environment that better keeps with the modern day wants and needs of customers and consumers.

The way in which people interact with the world has drastically changed in recent years, with connectivity to the digital world now greater than ever. This has meant that businesses from all walks of industries have had to adapt to maintain the irrelevance to their UK consumer-base, who increasingly look online for offers,introductory offers and promotions.

The Near Death of the UK High Street

After the 2009 collapse of Woolworths and long forgotten trips to Blockbuster, many had thought that the high street would die out, and be replaced with something new. However, instead of this happening, many major high street retail brands have learnt to keep up with the times, and innovate their business models and offerings to fit in with the fundamental modern-day dynamics of retail:

· Increased digital access
· Brand consciousness
· Design layout
· Online presence

Each of these factors have contributed significantly to drastic and innovative changes to almost every single high street business in the UK.

Increased Digital Access

As society becomes increasingly immersed in the online, digital world, high street shops have responded by making their business more compatible with the dominating population of tech-savvy customers.

With the increasing evolution of the smartphone and tablet devices, now also doubling up as digital wallets used by many of UK shoppers today, high street retailers have introduced contactless card payment options to accommodate their tech-savvy customers.

In a world of vast online digital connectivity, many businesses on high streets have introduced self-checkouts too. These have been introduced throughout the country’s highstreet shops to accommodate the increasing digital connectivity of UK shoppers. Self-checkout technology not only helps high street businesses to align with the tech-savvy world of today, but improves efficiency and ease of purchase for shoppers of almost every item, able to complete their shop independently whilst reducing queues for the more traditional, manual check-outs.

Brand Consciousness and Ethical Marketing

With humanity’s environmental impact being more of a concern than ever in recent times, environmentally friendly retail has become the latest hot trend.

Some high street brands, much like many other components of the retail industry, have further adapted and evolved to keep up with the times and remain relevant by trying to be aware of their true ecological footprint and reducing this by as much as they possibly can.

Businesses will commonly advertise their strong environmental consciousness, which many shoppers will now more than ever want to support over retail businesses that don’t put in effort to protect the planet.

This is a business strategy that has changed much of high street businesses, that is not only good for the high street’s survival, but also for the environment, helping to fight climate change and protect our planet for future generations.

Design and Layout of Retail Premises

The actual design and layout of shops has become more important than it perhaps ever has been. Apart from obvious and integral changes to a shop’s design that are altered by the fashion trends of the time, many high street shops have rebranded to fit into the online realm through which we are increasingly navigating our world by.

High street businesses specifically, have done this by creating an online presence for themselves, advertising their shop through websites and social media channels to create awareness.

Shops also increasingly adapt the physical design and layout of their shop to be ‘Instagrammable.’ Lots of independent highstreet shops have made their design layout perfect for photo opportunities.

This change to high street businesses not only makes their shop more compatible with modern-day shoppers, but increases advertisement and their overall reach via social media channels, with consumers becoming effective brand ambassadors (for free), with people posting pictures of the shop for all of the virtual world to see.

Technology is Everything

Stores and retailers have also started to introduce and integrate more technological features into their shop windows to help entice customers, as digital advertisement is how many of us receive most of our advertising, and therefore the type of advertising many will pay the most attention to. Most high street shop windows are now filled with digital signage advertising a video reel of products to attract customers into the shop and business.

Online Presence

Many high street businesses are creating an online presence for themselves to help keep themselves and their brand messaging inline with shoppers’ wants and needs.

Many retailers have online advertisements, social media accounts, digital campaigns and websites fully dedicated to promoting the high street shop and brand in question. Most businesses go a few steps further and sell their products both in-store and online.

Online shopping has become a major focus in the retail industry, used by many customers throughout the UK and indeed the wider world. By making products accessible both in-store and online, high street brands have used this significant change in the way people shop to remain relevant and able to compete with major figures throughout the industry.

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