Perspectives 2019

THE HOT TOPIC Survival of the fittest on the high street T he last few years have been challenging for high street retail. Certain pressures have affected high street names across the board, and traditionally strong brands such as Topshop, Topman, Accessorize, Monsoon, LK Bennett and Paperchase have either entered into or considered Company Voluntary Agreements (CVAs). Similarly, the struggles of stores such as House of Fraser and Debenhams are well documented. Here, we look at the consumer changes that have created this set of difficulties – and how high streets can respond. Challenges on the high street In recent years there have been three big challenges to the high street’s pre-eminence as the default retail location. First, the creation of retail parks and shopping centres has had a huge effect. The 1990s relaxation of planning laws prompted out-of-town and in town developments across the whole UK, such as Kent’s Bluewater (1999), Buchanan Galleries, Glasgow (1999), Coventry’s Arena Shopping Park (2006) and Glasgow’s Silverburn (2007). Unfortunately, this trend also resulted in an oversupply of retail space and, in some cases, two or even three shopping centres in town and city centres. Relatedly, the emergence of discount retailers such as B&M and Home Bargains has brought competition. These retailers tend to benefit from new or better-configured spaces in out-of-town locations with their own parking provision, where rents have also been comparatively lower. We have also seen a similar pattern in the rise of the food discounters, with Aldi and Lidl making significant inroads into the market share of the big four supermarkets (8% and 5.8% respectively last year). By Peter Hutton, Head of Retail & Occupier Services – Scotland Consumer behaviour is changing faster than ever. New shopping patterns have created winners and losers among both landlords and tenants, forcing the high street to fundamentally reinvent itself. Yet despite the difficulties and risks, some retailers remain strong and continue to grow. PERSPECTIVES 10 THE HOT TOPIC