The recent freezing weather has damaged retail sales on the High Street at a time when the industry needs them the most. According to the Mastercard Spending Pulse survey, March spending rose 1.3 percent year on year, a 2.3 percent dip compared to February's growth. Many well-known high street brands are closing stores and slashing jobs. So what exactly is causing all the turmoil and what do experts believe retailers should do to halt the decline?
In an exclusive IB Times UK documentary news short, presenter Marverine Cole speaks to analysts and retail experts about how the fortunes of the high street have changed, and asks retailers about what steps they have taken in order to survive.
Patrick O'Brien - Lead Retail Analyst at Verdict Research
Patrick O'Brien is a retail analyst with vast experience in the entertainment and technology sector. He says that sluggish economic growth, coupled with a failure to adapt to online retail, explains the deterioration of the UK high street.
"The downturn started in 2009, and then for the next couple of years retailers still believed that things would go back to how they used to be," he says.
"But that's definitely not the case any more for a number of reasons. The key one is the influence of online. Retailers never got to grips with the speed with which consumers would adapt to online retailing."
Professor Ajay Bhalla - Cass Business School
Ajay Bhalla is professor of global innovation management at Cass Business School. He explains why entertainment, electrical goods and clothing retailers all seem to be bearing the brunt of the current economic malaise.
"Part of the reason is that these companies expanded rapidly during the credit boom and there was no shortage of credit, and hence we saw that companies were able to borrow cheap money," he says.
"Also there was a demand in effect because the consumers were more willing to spend money. And thirdly I think companies simply did not expand to other channels. They were not multi-channel and so were relying on the single channel strategy that really created a boom in the high street. Prior to 2009 there was this expansion which was perhaps not rational."
Marc Valli - Owner of Magma Books
Magma Books in central London is an independent retailer which has been on the high street for 13 years. Owner Marc Valli admitted that in the current economic climate he's been forced to rethink the company's business model and diversify to survive.
"We started as a visual art bookshop before the internet was everywhere, and the idea was you could always get fresh and interesting art-related or design-related material in the shops," he says.
"But now a lot of that material people get online, and so we have diverted to products that are interesting or art-releated or design-related, and that can vary from games to stationery, prints to t-shirts. Just about evetryhing that has creativity inside it."
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