Retail is Changing

March 16, 2021
Navy Blue London
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Changing times for retail.

Today, 16th March 2021, Another retailer, Thorntons, has announced it is closing it's doors. What is going on with the High Street?

Last year Britain saw over 2800 store closures in the first half of the year alone. According to Retail Gazette, over 140,000 jobs were lost and we said goodbye to stores from some of the country’s top retailers, including House of Fraser , Toys R Us, Next, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, and many more. Only 15 out of the 96 sectors showed net growth in store numbers, with the biggest declines felt in fashion, restaurants, estate agents and pubs.

Large retailers have been particularly hard hit with those operating 10 stores or more closing over 5800 branches between 1 January and 30 September last year, a77% increase on the previous year.


Firstly a lot of these companies where in trouble, way before Covid, the pandemic just tipped them over the edge. Whilst it is sad to see them go and the peoples jobs it has effected, it's purely down to their failure to adapt and poor management.

Ask yourself this... when was the last time you actually shopped there, compared to when you last bought something on-line. Exactly.

Keeping it fresh and engaging

Can you image if you went into Debenhams for a full shopping experience? With pop up restaurants from local start ups, new brands that you could not find anywhere else? They could have invited the likes of Boden (Highly successful on-line brand) to have a pop up in-store, where clients can come in a try on the clothes (post Covid) then have an option to then buy on-line, in-store or at home.

It could have become an incubator for new and upcoming fashion designers, but as we all know it didn't.

More people are choosing to shop online: 

“In the retail sector, online spend is almost breaching20%, with £1-in-every-£5 spent coming through internet sales, which has effected the true value of physical retail stores.”

Physical space is expensive: 

“Extortionate rents for premises and the business rates that straddle them have placed additional financial pressures on those who are already under serious strain.”

Consumers are more careful: 

“Consumers themselves are becoming more conscious spend-wise, with the economic ramifications of Brexit continuing to cause a crisis of confidence in people’s wallets.”

Retailers can’t keep up: 

“Some retailers are suffering natural decline by not offering consumers a reason to shop in their stores, suffering from outdated USP’s, with poor fiscal management and standing still in an environment that demands fast-paced evolution.”

The Hight street is not dead, it just needs to change.

Based on consumer feedback and expert insight, the high street has a lot of boxes to tick if it’s going to remain relevant for future generations of consumers.

There needs to be a reduction in the amount of retail space, replaced with other mixed-use schemes and residential elements to encourage locals to engage in their local areas. The high street of tomorrow will be easily accessible, safe, clean, and able to enjoyed by all.”

Potential customers agree that convenience and accessibility were key factors that needed to be improved. The changes people most want to see on the high street include:

  • More staff to ensure that the experience is quicker
  • Clearer stock check in store
  • 24-hour service so that they can shop at any time (including Sunday shopping)
  • Self-checkout service to avoid queues
  • Free parking
  • Easier transport links and easier access for the disabled
  • More competitive prices compared to online

In terms of retail, the Middle East is light years ahead, with Banks, Hairdressers and general retail open till 10pm, giving those who are working the flexibility to shop during the week and not having the Saturday panic! The UK government needs support this change to really support the Retail sector in the UK.


How can we help?


At Navy Blue London, we can like to think ahead, we can review your business model from the ground up. Giving you the start or the boost you need. From a design perception and from a digital perspective, ensuring that your clients find you.

We’re a design agency that likes our clients to succeed, innovators and creators.

Design agency London, web design, retail design, London, Greater London. POS design, branding. Design Strategy

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