Consumer ‘promiscuity’ contributing to high street decline, finds study
Published:  20 June, 2013

A relentless search for value and a need for large amounts of choice are contributing to the death of the UK high street, a new survey has claimed.

The survey, carried out by Kantar Retail, Squire Sanders and the Retail Trust, criticised shoppers’ “rampant promiscuity” in terms of which shops they were loyal to, and said this added further “unparalleled pressure” to the high street.

Insight director at Kantar Retail Bryan Roberts said that if changes were not made by local and central governments, then the “high street as we know it is facing a steady slide into oblivion”. He added: “While retailers are blamed for letting the basics slip, such as service and pricing, local authorities were criticised for parking charges in town centres.”

Parking was such a bugbear that 80% of retailers and 60% of shoppers earmarked it as a key factor behind the decline of the high street. Meanwhile, the internet has also had a hand in the problem, with the survey revealing that 60% of shoppers preferred to shop at multichannel retailers, because it was easier to return items.

Roberts said: “Shoppers are relentless in their search for value – both in times of money and time. The proliferation of choice generated through multi-channel supermarkets and shopping centres, combined with the rampant promiscuity of shoppers in terms of retail repertoire, means the high street is under unparalleled pressure.”

However, Retail Trust CEO Richard Boland said: “The shape of consumer preference in purchasing channels is changing and should be embraced as an opportunity, not a threat. Retail is one of the most versatile and imaginative sectors we have in the UK and, over the coming years, we will see it respond to changing behavioural patterns, with innovation and stimulating new concepts. Whatever shape the future takes, we at Retail Trust will be there to support the needs of our constituency, the businesses and the employees.”