The modern high street is changing in a way that few predicted. Over the past few decades, retailers were provenly interested in larger spaces, occupying sizeable shops on the high street with an interest in offering as much as possible to customers and outshining competition. Rather quickly, however, this preference for capacity has begun to shift in the opposite direction.
John Lewis, for example, has already begun to make the shift toward small format and service-oriented shops, closing some of its larger venues in the process. There are a number of reasons as to why this decision might appeal to nationwide businesses, with finances understandably being the most significant motivator.
Not only are larger spaces becoming more difficult to justify, especially with the rising costs associated with energy and rent, as well as staffing, but when compared with online and digital alternatives, they are becoming less popular among customers. Online sales rise as customers seek more affordable and convenient options for purchases. The impersonal but efficient experience of checking out online is often preferred over the impersonal and comparatively inefficient experience of shopping in a large retail venue, causing the latter to lose out often.
Smaller shop spaces, however, don’t have the same issue because they have a personal and experience-focused quality that often outweighs efficiency in the mind of shoppers. If a customer is likely to have a pleasant shopping experience, or participate in a brand-related event that cannot be experienced online, they are much more likely to venture out onto the high street.
Retailers are rethinking their high street presence accordingly, redesigning their shop spaces from the ground up to prioritise not convenience but experience within their shop spaces. Many are collaborating with interior designers and retail furniture suppliers while seeking out shop shelving installation services to bring this new dynamic to their brand. As a result, more customers are being drawn to the high street.
Pop-up and temporary events are also drawing more attention from customers and are much easier for retailers to organise and host within smaller retail spaces. Such flash experiences can be created and enjoyed and then easily dismantled, generally with a shop shelving removal service, generating a considerable amount of attention and buzz for relatively little effort.
In addition to this new chapter of high street retail, smaller shop spaces are also a safer investment for brands. Established retailers can target more specific geographic locations and demographics with less risk due to the low-cost nature of a smaller retail venue. First-time retailers and new brick and mortar businesses are also able to take on smaller spaces with ease, since they require less initial investment and can be chosen for their ability to not only reach specific customers but also for their proximity to other complimentary businesses.
The result of this shift in retail preferences is a more dynamic and diverse high street, one that is far more localised and flexible than previous designs have accomplished. Customers are already demonstrating considerable support for the modern high street, preferring the shopping experience over shopping convenience. This shift is also prompting online retailers, such as Amazon, to bring part of their business offline too, finding their own place on the high street so as to reach customers in a more personal and direct way than e-commerce platforms can currently offer.