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The High Street is Far From Dead – A Recent Survey Reveals


For the past decade the High Street has received an incredible amount of bad press; ‘Death of the High Street’, ‘14 Store Closures per Day’, ‘The Rise of Online’. In addition the latest Christmas retail figures released this month from the likes of Next and John Lewis suggest that online sales have supported struggling retailers over the festive period. However, this does not show a complete switch to internet shopping, particularly when it comes to clothes.

A recent survey conducted by the Fashion Retail Academy reveals a very different story. While we all enjoy the convenience of shopping online over six in 10 (61%) consumers still like to try clothes on in-store, and in fact, the average shopper is only buying 38% of their clothes online.

What else did the survey reveal:

– More than two thirds (70%) of consumers still buy less than half their clothes online.

– More men than women try on clothes in store and less buy clothes online, six in 10 (62%) men say they still like to try on clothes in-store – compared to 60% of women.

– Online shopping might be on the rise but more than six in 10 consumers say they still like to try clothes on in-store before making a purchase.

– On average, women are buying 6% more of their clothes online – while three quarters (75%) of the male population are buying less than half of their clothes on the web.

– Consumers who buy over 70% of their clothes online still like to try them on in-store – with over half (54%) of them saying they like to go into the shops as well.

Lee Lucas, principal of the Fashion Retail Academy, says: “Undoubtedly the last few years has seen the proportion of shopping done online increase exponentially – while this has created some interesting challenges for retailers that didn’t react to this trend quickly enough, this shift hasn’t killed off the high street.

“From a consumer perspective, this shift online isn’t a big surprise – shoppers are savvy enough to understand that the best deals are often reserved for those who shop around online.

“However, retailers have been adapting and re-modelling based on consumers needs, looking at the latest trends, launching huge promotions across the board and creating an experiential shopping experience – with more and more retailers integrating services and 3rd parties into their retail space to draw people in.

“Companies such as Next are enjoying the benefits of blending online and physical sales environments, and see half of their online orders delivered to their stores – which is continuing to draw customers onto the high street.

“Big brands are also getting wise to the hype created around limited runs on certain lines of clothing – something which companies like Supreme have really mastered in recent years, and ‘legacy’ brands like Louis Vuitton have cleverly adopted.

“In the same way that books have enjoyed a resurgence against the Kindle in recent times thanks to the experience of leafing through a much loved paperback, the experiential aspect of heading to the shops will never be replaced wholesale by browsing online for new clothes.”  

It seems when it comes to clothing consumers do still like to see, feel and try-on before they buy and while online offers a ‘returns’ option the appeal to go out and shop is still very much there. To compete retailers need to incorporate several strategies and support bricks and mortar stores with a strong online presence. There will always be a drive to go out and experience; to meet for lunch, get a hair cut, see a film, and of course, to shop. And as The Fashion Retail Academy’s survey reveals the High Street is far from dead, which is why FashionCapital will be working with Stack N15 in Tottenham later this year, giving up and coming designers the chance to showcase and sell their work. More on this exciting retail opportunity soon!

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Testing Times for Great Britain’s High Street

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