Demanding consumers shun the traditional high street

GLENDA COOPER

The traditional high street shop has become the "symbol of a bygone era" to a whole generation of young consumers, who prefer to shop instead at superstores and out-of-town retail parks, according to Mintel, the market researchers.

In the next century, it warns, the high street's only regular customers will be the poor, including pensioners, those on benefits and the least mobile.

Although almost half of all shoppers say they visit the high street regularly and a further 25 per cent say they visit it occasionally, Mintel says that it is becoming a source of "top-up" shopping - such as the occasional pint of milk - for the most affluent and mobile shoppers.

These richer shoppers are motivated by convenience and choice, the report, Survival of the High Street, concludes. Their preference for out-of-town centres is because everything is under one roof (64 per cent), followed by ease of parking (58 per cent) and free parking (53 per cent).

Retail parks have been helped vastly by the rise in car ownership; it is projected by 1998 that there will be 25 million cars in the UK. Those least loyal to high street shops also show greatest enthusiasm for Sunday shopping.

The largest regional centres can even hit smaller superstores as well as high streets. The biggest ones are the MetroCentre (Gateshead), Meadowhall (Sheffield), Lakeside (Thurrock), Brent Cross (north London) and Merry Hill (Dudley, West Midlands).

But nearly half of all shoppers said they would shop in the high street if there were a better choice of shop. Free parking would entice 42 per cent and more big name shops would attract 34 per cent.

"Limited choice is the inherent weakness of small town centres and high streets and today's discerning shopper thrives on wide choice, something which retailers in the high street and smaller town centres are evidently not providing," said Paul Rickard, Mintel's head of research.

Mintel also dismisses government claims that it has saved the high street by halting expansion of out-of-town malls. It seems that the superstore mentality is now so firmly ingrained in us that government action is "too little, too late".

Planning controls were first relaxed in the early 1980s and rapid expansion by grocery and DIY retailers followed.

In July 1995, a consultation paper clarified the government's present thinking. It identified a "sequential approach" to planning, ensuring that preference was given to in-town rather than out-of-town developments.

"The changes in planning guidelines have come far too late to save the multitude of small businesses and specialist fresh food retailers whose businesses have suffered terminally at the hands of the multiples which operate over 900 grocery superstores," said Mr Rickard. He believes that for the high street to recover extensions on existing stores must be frozen along with new developments.

In 1995, multiple chains required an extra 17 million sq ft of new space of which 11 million sq ft was for retail parks based out of town. In comparison, between 1990 and 1994 the number of bakers fell by 32 per cent, grocers by 22 per cent and butchers by 10 per cent.

But while the high street butcher and baker are on their way out, the candlestick- maker might just survive. Mintel believes the high street can survive into the next century but in a different form. It will become increasingly dominated by doctors, solicitors, estate agents, restaurants and speciality shops.

Mr Rickard said: "We see the high street 2000 as being a lot smaller and containing fewer retail businesses than it does today. On the other hand, retail-based services, such as solicitors, will become an increasingly important focal point of visits to high streets."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Toure could leave Manchester City in the summer, claims his agent
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior C++ Developer

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Senior C++ Developer – L...

Part Time SEN Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a Part Time S...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Client Services Associate (MS Office, Analysis, Graduate)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client Services Associate (Microsoft Office, Ana...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz