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Consumers fear for high street retailers but shop online finds survey

Nearly two thirds of UK shoppers fear that traditional high street retailers will disappear over the next decade, according to a new study. Research by KIS Finance has found that 61 per cent of shoppers worry that the current media coverage of store closures heralds the loss of physical stores.

The respondents predicted that independent retailers, travel agents, and banks are the least likely features of high streets to exist in ten years, with restaurants and coffee shops the most likely to survive.

The shoppers appear to credit their own behaviour with the threat to stores. The 1,000 consumers surveyed were keen to avoid busy stores at Christmas, with 50 per cent claiming there were too many people in them during the festive season. Just 14 per cent said they planned to do their Christmas shopping in-store. More than a third (37 per cent) felt there is a wider choice of products online, while 20 per cent say that relevant shops are too far from their home, or shut (14 per cent) when they have time for shopping; 13 per cent are too confused by what they find in-store to shop there.

But the sample consumers were more likely to shop in stores if their local high streets had free parking and were more accessible. Just one in ten had bought gifts on Black Friday, and only 5 per cent during Cyber Monday.

Some 41 per cent of the consumers said that more retail staff would improve their shopping experience, with 34 per cent saying that more effective in-store stock control would help; 24 hour service was popular with 27 per cent of shoppers, with a similar amount favouring self-checkout technologies to avoid queues.

“With store closures flooding our newsfeeds recently, we were interested to find out what the future holds for the high street and how consumers’ shopping habits might affect retailers’ footfall,” says KIS Finance managing director Holly Andrews.

“It is obvious from our research that people do still like going into store to shop, but it just isn’t as accessible as online shopping is. To save the high street many retailers need to ensure that they are thinking innovatively about how to draw customers in with clearer in-store stock checks, more staff and extended hours during busy periods. The reason why so many retailers are struggling with their stores is because consumer shopping habits are changing and the high street needs to change with it, creating a more community led atmosphere with more accessibility and variety for everyone.”

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