What is really happening to our High Street?

Online shopping is easy and cheap and even for the novice its simple to buy something that is straight forward. For those prepared to use a little bit of flair in their use of search engines, then it is easy to see how massive savings on purchases can be made. It’s simple, its conducted from the safe haven of the lounge, the office, the bedroom, or even
these days on the bus, on the train, or even as a passenger in the car.

But what of those large and expensive purchases. The bed, the wardrobe, the second hand car, the cooker the fridge? Can we buy those things online with confidence? Or do we still need to touch and feel and do we carry with us the worry that the company that we are dealing with has a proper returns policy? Can you return a bed that has been delivered by an internet company? How much does it cost to do that? Those retailers that choose and have the resources available can afford to rent large out of town retail warehouses, but from a consumers point of view, be prepared to make the long journey by car.

It is actually feasible that in the not too distant future, our High Streets will be empty. Our shops could be replaced by
Bars and Coffee shops, maybe the odd Jewellers shop, would you really choose a diamond or gold watch online? Our City Centres could simply be somewhere to go to work, maybe somewhere to live and somewhere to entertain or socialise. Unless we act now and do something substantial, then shopping on the High Street, as we know it, will indeed be a thing of the past.

Our High Street retailers are carrying the burden of additional staff and building costs which drive down gross profits.
Whereas online shops can enjoy the benefits of lower such costs. Perhaps even those international businesses, which is simpler to arrange, when you are online, like Ryanair, Google and lots of other headline companies are
registering the sales of produce in Countries with lower tax liabilities. In short they can afford to charge less and wipe out the trade from those companies that have lined our High Streets for decades.

Our shopping environment is rapidly changing, so unless the retailers and ultimately the landlords prepare themselves for a big changes then there will be more of the same with stories of large multiple chain retailers going under.
Online stores are not free from challenges, one of the biggest challenges that face any new online enterprise, is the effect of cheap imports from counties like China. This is where any online retailer has to know the competition and realise that they are competing not with someone 3 streets away, but with someone 3 clicks away. Online retailing is growing at such a speed, that it will soon account for the majority of retail sales within the UK if current trends continue. However, this does nothing to increase the prosperity of Britain’s High Street which will continue to spiral if nothing is done to reduce overheads for those remaining businesses that face competition from online companies.
Landlords may well be burying their heads in the sand by thinking that they can hide behind the terms of their leases, but it is clear that even the tightest lease has little effect when the administrators and liquidations pen strikes hard, impacting the values of the balance sheet.

You can imagine, in turn, that those Landlords paying off loans will no longer be able to meet their mortgage payments and then further doom and gloom hits our hard pressed global economy. In short be prepared for a bumpy ride, those smooth surfaces that paved our buoyant High Streets are probably going to see some quite substantial potholes!

Take Action Now and don’t wait until it’s too late get advice and speak to Andrew O’Dowd MRICS IRRV your friendly local RICS Qualified Surveyor, who can help you to pick up the pieces.