Small Business Advice

Don't give up on the high street yet

Max White

Despite what a new report suggests, it isn't dead - it just needs to adapt

A new report on the state of UK high streets says that things are bleaker than ever. Small businesses are being hit hard by changing consumer behaviour and increased costs – but it doesn’t mean we should shut up shop and go home.

In the first half of 2016 the number of shops in the country fell at its fastest rate for four years. An average of 15 shops closed every day and the number of shops popping up plummeted to a five-year low.

Tightened household incomes have left shoppers with less money to spend, meaning they're cutting down on the number of purchases they make and being more savvy about what they buy, and where from. Largely, this has meant turning to online retailers who can offer more competitive prices than traders on the high street.

As the Government continues to hike up business rates and national living wages increase too, it’s the small businesses that suffer the most. Climbing overhead costs mean they have to push their prices up just to make a profit, which drives customers away.

Down but not out

Small businesses have been rolling with the punches a long time now, but whilst the new report suggests they’re taking yet another hit, they’re not out for the count – so don’t give up on them yet.

Just like when Woolworths went under, and more recently BHS, some were quick to declare the high street dead. When in fact, nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers prefer to physically see products before buying them. For lots of people, the high street is an important part of their everyday lives. It’s important for our local economies and in turn, our wider national economy.

Time for a change

Because it’s not the apocalypse that’s looming over our high streets – it’s an evolution. Retailers have to modernise and adapt to new consumer needs to survive. Those that won’t, will be left behind.

We’ve seen pop-up shops springing up on our high streets in a bid to keep things fresh and interesting, but there needs to be further innovation if the high street is going to stay alive.

Find out how we’re winning back the high street by helping small businesses give customers exactly what they want, for free: