Grimsey report

The Grimsey Review into the high street has emphasised the future of a Networked High Street based around internet shopping.

The review suggests that UK high streets could become internet-based, with consumers walking on to the high street and connecting to a cloud-based network, which provides them with deals and shop information.

Deals will become available via the internet once the consumer is close enough to the shop.

In the food sector, the report stated that only 3.4% of all food sales are online, which has the lowest proportion of online spending in relation to all spending in the sector.

However, it explained that Amazon and the new warehousing for M&S online, plus a new service from Morrisons, will see this number increase.

“Our view is that the butchers are one of the great survivors of the high street,” said Douglas Scott from the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association (SFMTA). “It’s disappointing that the whole shopping experience disappears from the town centre, but shopping online provides a good opportunity for butchers as well.

“At the end of it all, the butcher is often in a very established premises, which makes it difficult for them to move to where the shoppers are. However, whereas previously they wanted to look at the meat, people have now got more faith in buying online,” he said.

The review further showed that food has seen good growth on the high street, and that, among independents, convenience stores in high streets have grown by 17% while convenience stores driven by the interest of the major grocery brands have grown by 8%.

The review mentions the Transition Town network, which stresses the importance of local food production, consumption and how to reduce food miles.

CBI chief policy director Katja Hall said: “Rapid change in the retail sector means high streets have changed forever, and we cannot reinvent them as they once were. High streets are suffering from a lack of strategic vision, so a business plan for each town centre is a good idea – giving businesses the opportunity to work alongside local authorities to breathe new life into our town centres.”

She said action on business rates would help ease the pressure on some retailers struggling to keep their doors open, but added: “However, a one-off money-grab on larger retailers would undermine investment and job creation.”