Will a Smart City Have a High Street?

This book chapter discusses whether Smart Cities will have high streets as e-commerce and online shopping becomes more salient. Through conducting research in London Borough of Southwark, the chapter presents findings based on footfall observations, and a usage and attitudes survey, and concludes that a smart city will have a high street.

Date added 2 December 2021
Last updated 3 December 2021

This book chapter discusses whether Smart Cities will have high streets as e-commerce and online shopping becomes more salient. The chapter argues that whilst a Smart City may suggest a full switch to online shopping, this is not the case as the literature indicates consumer behaviour is moving towards local “little-and-often” shopping. This means online retail forms part of a multi-channel retail system instead of an online dominated one.

Through conducting research in eight locations in London Borough of Southwark, the chapter presents findings based on footfall observations, and a usage and attitudes survey. Looking at footfall density, the study found peaks and troughs in continuous pedestrian flow in the eight locations researched and that footfall distribution is affected by habitual behaviours. The "little-and-often” shopping was recognised as a Smart City characteristic due to sustainability rooted in such localism as the majority of survey respondents worked and lived close by. When looking at the digital influences on consumer behaviour, the survey found that citizens in Southwark were not the typical “Smart Citizen” and level of reach and use for mobile and social media marketing tools was low. However, it was identified that local newspapers and freesheets were frequently used and as such, findings suggest that e- and m-marketing do not support current claims due to this low reach.

The chapter concludes that a total shift to online shopping would require complex consumer behaviour change which is unlikely. Therefore, a smart city will have a high street, especially as people’s habits are increasingly becoming more local and sustainable which are attributes of the smart city.