Jane Embury, director, takes a look at the High Street
It’s been a kind of Darwinism, but with shops rather than living things.
Shops closing for good all over the country, including the likes of Debenhams and Arcadia, owner of Topshop, among others. Topshop had 300 stores.
The growth of online shopping was bad enough, but Covid-19 proved the last straw for many.
Other names have also recently hit the buffers, including Monsoon, Laura Ashley and Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
In response, the government must have a joined-up approach to the High Street. That approach must look at rent and rates, if we are to avoid more casualties.
It’s a pivotal moment for our towns and cities, because going shopping is something that goes back thousands of years.
It’s not just about browsing through stock, and making a purchase or ten. It’s a social activity where family and friends have traditionally got together.
The real question is whether it’s the death of the High Street, or something else entirely?
The answer partly lies in how particular shops have been managed. Next, for example, is still making healthy profits.
It has a first-rate online presence to bolster sales while its physical shops are closed.
Or B&M which made great profits in 2020, opening new shops and creating jobs. OK, it does sell some groceries, and has therefore been allowed to stay open.
According to one estimate, households have saved some £100 billion of cash, which they will want to spend once lockdown ends.
But the retail sector will have to learn to balance the physical with online. Online shopping has inevitably seen a huge rise in volume.
But the retail sector will have to reinvent themselves, and that’s where we come in.
We have long experience in the sector, from the UK to Hong Kong. Our internal screens and doors, and external systems, provide a perfect solution for retailers to reconfigure closed shops and make them thrive again.
We stand ready to do our bit when lockdowns are eased and we can all get back to a bit of retail therapy.
Our High Streets simply have to thrive again once Covid-19 is finally beaten. The alternative is unthinkable.