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What next for our high streets?

Posted by Mike Manwaring on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 in General

The recent problems for high street retailers were first illustrated with the demise of Woolworths.  Barratts, Peacocks, Game, Clinton Cards, Comet and JJB Sports followed and 2013 has already seen the administration of Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster.  One has to ask, who is next?

The departure of these well-known retail businesses illustrates just how difficult it is for high street retailers at the moment.  More and more people have less and less money in their pockets and the business environment is changing faster and faster.

In these difficult economic times many local retailers are finding the cost of maintaining a physical presence too much.  Many of the independent shops which enhance our region’s appeal are disappearing from our high streets.  The resultant abundance of charity shops, if left unchecked, will start to detract from the West Country’s charm. 

Retail is experiencing an unprecedented shift in business model.  Until very recently, the main requirement for any retail businesses was a physical shop with an enticing shop window and friendly, helpful staff etc.  The internet has changed this and businesses which are not adapting are dying.

We have probably all done it.  That is, visit a shop on the high street to peruse the latest washing machines or televisions.  Avidly consume all the advice we can from the helpful staff.  Touch, feel examine.  Then go home, switch the laptop on and check out the best price the internet can offer.  It is human nature to pay less, if we can.  But human nature has always had a self-destructive edge.  The victim, here, could be our high streets and independent, niche retailers.

The retail business model has changed and many West Country retailers are struggling with the cost of maintaining a high street presence.  All retailers must consider how the internet fits in with their business strategy.  Some businesses will adapt and thrive.  Others won’t.

Whether a business is viable or not, Lameys can help to achieve a beneficial outcome for all concerned.  The key to maximising the benefit is to take early advice which will enhance the options available.

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