A little window into my world

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Is e-tail killing the high street?

Murder on the high street

The business of fashion retail gross' billions of £ annually, and it is estimated that it employs over three million people to run its stores. It is one of the largest industries in the UK, however the face of the high street is changing. Thanks to the development on technology, social networking sites, and our busy life styles, a huge percentage of our spending is now done online to fit around our busy lifestyles. It is predicted that by 2011 32m UK customers will shop online, which makes you wonder what will happen to the face of the high street?

Over the past 10 years e-tail has become a major part of the fashion industry and introduced consumers to a whole new shopping experience. Online stores such as boohoo.com and asos.com are providing exciting, up to the minute fashion with just a few clicks. For us ever busy working girls this has become an easy way to shop. No sweating it out in the lunch break to dig for that last size 10, must have lace jumpsuit or endless queuing. You can shop for everything from the comfort of our own desk. While we are enjoying the luxury of online shopping, perhaps we should spare a thought for what this is doing to the face of the high street.

Some shops are embracing this trend in e-tailing and opening up their own online stores. Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and new look at the click of a button, yes please?! They are using both stores and their websites to promote all of their services, catering for all customer needs. In a way they are using e-tail to make their stores more accessible for people, but could it be that the online shopping trend is taking away from good old fashion shopping. Could there eventually be no need for high street stores as we know them?!

Other stores and retail groups that are less mainstream then those of Arcadia could be considered outed by the new trend of online shopping. As e-tail is slowly become the norm people want to be able to access things online rather then having to go to the shops. If you can find similar products to the ones you want and can order them simply online why would you bother making an unnecessary trip?! As well as this business' will make less profit without online stores too. Trading hours restrict the amount of time a retail store can stay open for, but you can make purchases online 24/7. This means people can shop around the clock giving companies higher profit margins and putting other retailers under pressure to do well. Stores must meet the needs of their customers and keep them loyal. We can be fickle at times, and brand loyalty isn't such a major thing these days. By making it easier to shop with a specific shop they are more likely to see customers spend more with them.

For new designers the Internet is an easier market to break then that of the high street itself. with everyone looking for that unique show stopping dress, or those rare heels that make your legs look skinny we are ever more turning to online boutiques for the answers. I myself have looked into setting up an online store. Social networking sites make it easier to reach more people without the need for marketing and I could work from home reaching people with the click of a few buttons. A classic example of this is my friend Cat. For her final major project in uni she set up her business catrionarose.com selling beautiful scarf dresses online. She managed to reach hundreds of people just by forming a group on facebook. Once people started buying and reviewing, the business took off and has now launched in Ibiza and Australia as well as here in the UK. She has had magazines reviews and been featured in cosmopolitan and Harper's Bazaar. So perhaps e-tail is the way forward.

While it may be killing the need for retail stores e-tail is certainly opening up a new market, and perhaps is encouraging us to spend more. With evenings to browse the Internet for clothes, we are being more exposed to the high street and what it has to offer. Only time will tell if this growing trend will change the face of the high street and whether it will be for good or bad, but in the meantime we should all enjoy a little bit of e-tail therapy.