The high street is still Britons’ first choice shopping destination, despite a damp summer, the economy and the internet, according to research for MyHigh.St.
But time pressure, expensive or difficult parking, and higher prices are driving people online.
The study of 2,000 shoppers found that that 29% of respondents said they prefer the high street, beating the internet (28%), shopping malls (24%) and supermarkets (17%).
The strength of preference suggests that a marriage of the high street and the internet would be an effective solution to some of the problems high streets are encountering.
The shift from the high street to online is increasing as 60% of respondents said they shop less on the high street than they did five years ago. More than 80% said they shop online with a surprising 70% saying they conduct the majority of their shopping online.
Furthermore, more than half (54%) say they shop online up to five times a month, up from 43% five years ago.
The move online is led by the ability to compare prices (67%), save money (55%), the simplicity of being only a mouse click away from a purchase (52%) and the time saving this delivers (48%), while 40% appreciate the ability to shop anytime.
Two out of three (62%) shopped on the high street in the past week with the appeal of its independent stores falling into three categories: the social and community benefit of a vibrant high street; the shopping experience delivered by independent retailers and access to essential utilities.
Social value of the high street:
- More than a third (38%) of high street shoppers are motivated by a desire to support local businesses.
- The biggest cause for concern about the closure of independent retailers is the loss of jobs (52%).
- 38% are worried that closures would mean the loss of the sociability and community of a bustling high street.
Loaye Agabani, co-founder of MyHigh.St and independent toy shop retailer, said: “Our high streets are important for more reasons than we think. They are about real people, communities and a reputation for quality and service. However, independent retailers need a professional online presence because shoppers demand it. Marrying the quality offered by high street independents with the accessibility of the internet is the perfect solution.”