Recent changes to the UK High Street

In recent years, there has been an obvious change in terms of consumer spending habits. The most notable of which is where consumers prefer to shop and this has never been truer than the end of year results for 2016. When it comes to the preferred avenue for shopping it would seem the high street has fallen even further out of favour with the modern-day consumer. Early reports which have been published suggest that 2016 signalled the lowest number of high street shoppers in nearly 20 years. In would be easy to assume that consumers are simply preferring to shop online, from the comfort of their own homes but additional reports also indicate that this loss in footfall has not been directly converted into increasing online sales. So, early signs would therefore suggest that consumers are, for the first time in a long time, simply being more careful with their spending as a whole. With this in mind, it would be interesting to know more about how consumer spending habits changed during 2016 and particularly as far as the end of the year is concerned and this is what we will look at for today’s article.

Increasingly consumers have been making a somewhat overwhelming shift to online resources as far as their shopping requirements are concerned. Whether this be electrical goods, homeware, insurance based products or even food, the internet is becoming our first stop port of call when a product or service is needed. Not only does the internet provide a wealth of resources all in one place but in addition it gives us 24/7 access to fit in with our ever increasingly busy lives. As such consumers, have become comfortable using the internet for shopping and purchasing which would have previously taken place on the local high street. So, where the internet can provide quick and easy access, the high street remains sometimes difficult to access conveniently and often busy as a result. However, in 2016 this fact has changed quite considerably compared to years gone-by and thus, our local high streets are not as busy as we may be led to believe. As mentioned above recent reports have suggested that some of the major UK retailers have now reported some of their lowest sales figures for the high street in modern times. A discussion which can be reviewed in full on the Daily Mail, explained how one such retailer, Next, has now reported a 7% fall in the end-of-season January clearance. Next are not alone and in fact general footfall up and down the UK high streets is the lowest it has been in December since 1998.

Where many will argue that the reduction in footfall can be attributed to increasing online shopping, it would seem this is not entirely true either. Instead it is being reported that reduction in consumer spending in a general sense is instead to blame. Uncertain financial times and modern economical changes appears to have led to cut backs in terms of consumer spending both at the high street and online. Whereas in years gone by consumers up and down the country have embraced the festive period and spent in the same such manner, 2016 signalled a change in this. It would appear consumers are attempting to better manage their finances to ensure a personal level of financial security can be maintained. For years’ consumers have willing spent hundreds of pounds on their friends and family come Christmas time and more again still in the various sales which follow. The decrease in footfall and the lack in rising sales for online shopping certainly suggests consumers are being more careful with their money.

For those of us wishing to maintain sensible and affordable spending as we head into the new year, there are several online resources which are available free of charge. Whether you wish to reduce existing monthly household bills or obtain the best interest rates for various products, a great resource is Money Saving Expert. This site offers both advice and links to current and up to date money off discounts as well as other consumer experiences for those who are unsure. Aside from this example there is also Step Change, the Debt Charity. Step Change can provide free and impartial advice to consumers who are regularly struggling to maintain their required living costs. Step Change can offer plans for better money management as well as guidance as to how to reduce some of your regular bills which need to be paid each and every month to maintain the household.


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Author: Internal Customer Services Agent



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