Quietest Christmas since Credit Crunch For UK High Streets

According to the latest forecasts, the crisis on high streets up and down the UK is set to intensify this Christmas with the quietest Christmas shopping period since the credit crunch. The poor show out on our high streets is due to a number of factors: low consumer confidence because of the Brexit fiasco, the rise and rise of online shopping, of course, and Christmas shoppers increasingly buying experiences rather than things are all listed as reasons for the eerie quiet on our streets.

Footfall in the run up to Christmas this year is expected to be down 4.2% on where it was the same time last year, having fallen year on year for 9 years out of the last ten. Even discounts are not doing enough to lure in the customers and Black Friday was not a success. A number of retailers are likely to feel the pinch heading into the new year. Brexit jitters are a looming threat over many high street shops – and many case the threat of becoming just one more casualty of the current fiasco.

But while it may be tempting to blame just the current political mess for the problem, the problems for the British High Street go a lot deeper. Online shopping is so ubiquitous and Amazon is taking over the world – it can also be easy to shrug our shoulders and give up on high street retailers all together. The world is changing rapidly, and many high street retailers are struggling to keep up. Perhaps it is time to stop peddling doom and gloom and turn our thoughts to solutions to the problem.

High street shops cannot compete with online retailers when it comes to price. Glancing at a price comparison website will show you immediately that buying online is cheaper. It can sometimes be more convenient too – so high street shops are not going to be able to compete on those grounds either. So what can high street retailers do?

Perhaps it is time to re-imagine the high street altogether – perhaps even to reform consumerist society entirely. Freed from sky high rents and other financial pressures, community owned and community led high streets could breathe life back into the hearts of our cities. They could bring food growth, small-scale manufacture and artistry back into the centre our communities – providing learning opportunities, work and experiences – rather than just a place to buy.

So, the figures show us that our high streets are struggling. Yes. The world is changing. Will we adapt and re-imagine our communities? Will be buy online AND support our high streets? If we do not, the high street is likely to get quieter still.

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