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The Battle Between Fashion and Health is Causing UK High Street Shops Closure

It appears more Brits are getting more interested in how they look and feel from the inside out, and not on the outside alone as they ditch fashion stores for health and fitness outlets instead. Or maybe this is one of those times when the consumers cannot take full responsibility for the prevailing trends and are themselves victims. Whatever the case, fashion stores are closing while health clubs and wellness outlets are springing up.

A report produced by the Local Data Company and accountancy firm PwC shows the pressure retail stores are facing. In the first half of 2016, the average rate of shop closures across the United Kingdom was 15 per day. It might not have been too much of an issue if new shops were opening at that same rate, but openings were at the lowest they had been in five years with only 12 per day.

By the end of 2016, a grand total of 896 shops had closed, which happens to be the greatest decline since 2012. The area that saw the greatest loss in terms of how many stores left is Greater London with 232 stores leaving. Next to Greater London was South East which saw a loss of 181 stores, and then Scotland with 112 stores closed. In particular, fashion stores suffered as there was a net decline of 87, with only 119 new stores opening and 206 stores closing. According to the Local Data Company’s director, Matthew Hopkinson, health care operators are one of those who are fast replacing the famous high streets of various cities across the UK.

More consumers are moving away from spending their money on retail goods such as shoes, clothes, and jewellery to healthy experiences such as working out at the gym. Explaining why our high streets are changing, Hopkinson pointed out that the high numbers of store closures in the South East and London were due to the rise in consumers going to out-of-town centres that that are service based rather than based on selling goods, including entertainment outlets.

Is the era of the fashion retail store fading?

In spite of the rapid decline of fashion stores, there are two factors that still matter and may be enough to preserve retail stores as we know them; in-store experience and brand loyalty. Leader of retail and consumer at PwC, Madeleine Thonson mentioned believes brand loyalty is now more crucial than ever, especially at a time when goods are more expensive and Brits have less to spend. The suggestion was stores have to get more savvy and versatile if they want to increase the visits to their stores.

There is also the role of technology to consider, as more shoppers in the UK would rather shop online than in-store because of the convenience. Perhaps the time has come for stores to get more ingenious and take advantage of technology to drive sales both in-store and online.



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