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Wednesday 11 December 2019

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A quarter of consumers ‘indifferent’ to High Street decline

Written by Hannah McGrath
19/02/2019

A quarter of consumers say they feel indifferent to the decline of the High Street, as new analysis showed that footfall dropped by the equivalent of three million customers.

A survey of 500 consumers by commercial finance firm ABC Finance revealed that 38 per cent do most or all of their shopping online. Data from the Office for National Statistics has also suggested that £1 in every £5 is now being spent online.

A fifth of respondents said their visits to the High Street were usually months apart, mostly because they are no longer finding value in what’s on offer.

Research by IPSOS found that footfall was down by 4.2 per cent across the UK between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018, equivalent to three million High Street customers.

However, despite increasing numbers admitting their indifference to the decline of the High Street, three quarters of those surveyed said they were “saddened” to see historic retail brands struggling.

Moreover, despite the increasing shift to online shopping, more than half (56 per cent) said they would prefer to spend their money with independent local retailers rather than big-name chains, suggesting that smaller companies could benefit from growing scepticism when it comes to major e-commerce sites.

Jack Roger, customer service and e-commerce manager at ABC, said: “I work closely with consumers on a daily basis and, increasingly, I’m hearing that people would much rather go and experience something or test the product out in person.

“One comparison that springs to mind is how vinyl records have made a comeback – are they better or more convenient? No. It’s all about the experience.”

ABC’s report stated that if the UK’s high streets have any hope of ending their current slump, they must adapt to changing customer trends.

“While we may mourn the halcyon days of streets packed with shops, the future is more experience-driven, social and - if the powers that be get their act together soon - this progress will act as a well-needed shot in the arm to get our town centres thriving once again.”


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