Will the High Street survive in 2030?

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Head of Consumer Research at ParcelHero, David Jinks MILT writes about the possible death, or transformation, of the High Street in the next 15 years or so. Can it survive in the face of the onslaught of ecommerce?

Hands up who remembers Athena, Tandy, Woolworths, Radio Rentals, Comet or Blockbuster? A new infographic from ParcelHero shows how the High Street is fast becoming Memory Lane – and it’s all down to the rise of eBay and Amazon

We eBay traders love the continued growth of ecommerce. But that growth comes at a price. A new report by ParcelHero reveals the death of the High Street as we know it may be far nearer than people think – and that the growth of online shopping and home deliveries will mean the end of many more familiar High Street names.

The town centre of today will be unrecognisable by 2030: when 50% of the UK’s existing shop premises will have disappeared. For example, supermarkets will be an endangered species. The rise of online grocery shopping – including Internet of Things services such as Amazon Dash Replenishment, which enable your fridge to order top ups without you lifting a finger – will kill the weekly shop. Superstores will become white elephant inconvenience stores.

By 2030 40% of all UK retail sales will be online. It’s not only supermarkets that are in peril, most brick and mortar department stores, fashion stores, banks, book shops, newsagents, Post Offices and toy shops will be a thing of the past. In 2013 alone there was a net loss of 264 fashion stores from our High Street. The online fashion industry could reach £36.2bn by 2030: 63% of the market compared to today’s 21%

But before we online-marketplace traders start to feel guilty, the report reveals it’s not all bad news. There is a way to get the High Street out of its cul-de-sac; by looking back to the future. Our town centres could return to the Victorian model of a mix of shops, houses and other businesses.

The High Street can become a 24-hour community; including housing, arts, entertainment, offices, manufacturing and leisure, as well as shops. It needs vibrant streets embracing the era of ecommerce, with 3D printing outlets for larger items, and large parcel locker stations; while autonomous vehicles and drones deliver to shops and homes from freight and parcel hubs. That is the best potential outcome.

eBayers are at the vanguard of retail; and there’s no doubt the growth of online shopping will have a huge impact. But if we tear ourselves away from our PCs and sales reports once a week and head for the High Street to enjoy a meal or watch a movie, we can do our bit to ease the change.

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