Are Britain's High Streets in Turmoil? New Look Set to Close 60 Stores | What Does the Future Hold for Bricks & Mortar Stores?


Last week news broke of another high street retailer New Look showing the cracks of a struggling high street as it announced the closure of 60 of its 593 stores. For us Londonites here’s how it affects us. The New Look London stores closing will be:

London - Marble Arch
London - Moorgate/ London Wall
London - Oxford Circus

Charlotte Pearce, retail analyst at GlobalData, agreed: “While the closure of stores will lead to market share loss in the short term, it is a long awaited and necessary move. New Look is now in danger of slipping out of the top 15 UK clothing retailers this year.”

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I don’t want to scaremonger, but I do worry about the future of the high street in our country. Bricks and Mortar are quintessentially a British thing, and as the saying goes, we are a nation of shopkeepers. We’ve already lost Maplin and Toys ‘R’ Us this year, both companies slipping into administration on the same day.

In other news Marks and Spencer’s continue to hemorrhage profits, reporting a 5.3 per cent fall in profit for the six months to the end of September 2017, largely as a result of the cost of pulling out of certain international markets. Basically they tanked in the U.S.

They also haven’t fully recovered from the cost of having to completely remodel their online platform in the early 2000’s. Yes, Gandy and Cheshire have done well with their ranges, but they’re not The Avengers.

If we’re looking at the other heavyweights in that area, shares are sinking in Next, as much as 8% wiped off the company portfolio in October last year. Debenhams had a shocker at Christmas prompting job cuts as their share price plunge wiping almost £70m off the market value of the Debenhams business.

Okay Carl we get it; you got up early and done your research. What do you want a Blue Peter’s Badge or something? How about you tell us what’s going to happen to retail in the next couple of years?

Well, since you asked. The future of the high street will be the continuation of pop-ups that you’re already seeing a lot of. If brands do well they’ll renew their lease, from 6 months to 12 and so on. Brands already doing this well are American Eagle who launched their lingerie off-shoot Aerie in a pop-up. The direct to consumer brands in particular will do well to exploit this. Then the next wave is apps getting into physical space like ThredUp who opened a store in Texas and are looking to roll out more. It’s these apps that have the data, this welter of information that can target the consumer directly. If anyone wants to read up more on that then check out the pioneering trend library WGSN.

The end goal for stores is to make their shopping experience marry their online experience. The stores of the future will use data to personalise the shopping experience. A bit like checking into a hotel where you’ll have all your ‘environment’ settings programmed ahead of your arrival. What kind of beers you’d like in the fridge, how warm you want the room, what sports channels you want to watch, etc. Technology will educate customer-service representatives with profiles on buying behaviour, product preferences and demographic information driving more sales.

Ok that’s it from me today folks, just some sketches, some thoughts. Hope you found it useful. Remember to go easy on the people behind the counter whilst you’re out shopping for bargains. Retail is fragile, the humans involved can be just as fragile and deserve our respect.  


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