Evolving high streets: resilience and reinvention
This 2014 collection of papers explore how retail trends are impacting high streets and town centres, after the 2008 economic crisis. The articles cover high street policy; secondary retail centres; convenience culture; night-time economy; consumer experience; digital trends and e-resilience; and data usage. Insights can be taken around how town centres and high streets can transform to deal with ongoing challenges and changes.
This collection of papers explore how ongoing retail trends are impacting high streets and town centres, covering a number of topics - as summarised below - and providing insight into how town centres and high streets might evolve in the future.
Paper 1: High Streets and town centres policy – Anne Findlay and Leigh Sparks
- Retailing traditionally ignored at national policy level, with a focus on land-use planning.
- The need for and type of retail space required is changing.
- Policy needs to focus on making town centres places where people can live, work, play, and be proud of.
Paper 2: Secondary retail during economic crisis and austerity – Anne Findlay and Leigh Sparks
- Secondary centres are often neglected in retail research (i.e. local neighbourhood centres).
- They have generally not been as negatively impacted by the 2008 recession and broader structural changes in retail.
- The community ‘glue’ giving these centres local identity can foster their resilience.
Paper 3: Convenience culture and the evolving high street – Neil Wrigley and Dionysia Lambiri
- We are seeing an ongoing rise in convenience (grocery) retail within the UK.
- Whilst online shopping has been rising, so has the demand for convenience retail at a local neighbourhood level.
- The shift to convenience culture needs to be considered in measuring benefits of town centre first policies.
Paper 4: A helping hand? The contribution of the night-time economy to the evolving high street – Marion Roberts
- There are knowledge gaps around the value of the night-time economy to centres.
- Policy-makers face the challenge of striking a balance between different night-time activities and user groups to foster inclusivity.
- There are opportunities to innovate through converting vacant shops into things like café-bars and micro-pubs.
Paper 5: Managing town centres during the crisis: from retail-focussed management to the experience economy and beyond – Andres Coca-Stefaniak and Shanaaz Carroll
- Consumers expect more than functionality from town centres – their focus is increasingly on the overall quality of the centre experience.
- Town centre managers play a crucial role in transforming town centres.
- More research is needed on the role of town centre management in improving competitiveness and liveability of town centres.
Paper 6: The digital challenge for the high street: insights from Europe – Jesse Weltevreden
- There are several key stages in the evolution of online shopping: the ‘pioneering phase’ (1994-1999) with negligible online shopping; ‘universal internet access’ (1999-2004); ‘expansion of online shopping’ (2004-2009); and ‘fully-fledged sales channel and hyper-connectivity’ (2009-2014).
- Despite growth in online shopping, physical stores are not superfluous.
- There will be an ongoing blurring of physical and digital retail environments.
Paper 7: The consumer journey through the high street in the digital era – Cathy Hart and Angus Laing
- In the backdrop of digital growth, a more holistic appreciation of the total high street experience is needed.
- Depth of consumer data is important in understanding high street experience – including consumer touch points (memorable interactions – functional and experiential) and consumer journeys (routes through physical and digital spaces).
- Consumers visit town centres and high streets to experience emotions and enjoyment, and not just for functional purposes.
Paper 8: The e-resilience of UK town centres – Alex Singleton and Les Dolega
- The concept of e-resilience concerns the vulnerability of high streets to the growth in online retailing.
- Some retail centres will be more vulnerable to the impact of online shopping than others who possess greater levels of e-resilience (e.g. centres with a healthy mix of convenience retail and community services).
- Data and evidence is crucial in informing evidence-based decisions around building greater e-resilience.
Paper 9: Data constraints and the high street crisis – Serena Page
- Data constraints lead to understandings of high street change sometimes being based on assumptions rather than evidence.
- There are inequalities in terms of who can access high street data.
- It is vital to develop a robust and accessible data source on high street performance.