Portfolio project

RBS thought leadership piece

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High Street Davids and Goliaths

IT’S been a turbulent few years for the British high street.

The relentless growth of online retail and changing shopping habits has seen many major household names such as BHS, Comet and Toys R Us go to the wall, while others such as M&S and New Look continue to downsize and restructure in the face of challenging economic and behavioural headwinds.

Nowhere was this more starkly illustrated than by 2019 proving to be the worst year for retail since records began in 1995, with a decline in total sales of 0.1% compared to growth of 1.2% the year before.

According to ABS Finance’s report into the future of the high street, last year there were 9,000 store closures and at least 21,816 jobs were lost due to big retailers going into administration.

But even as the major household names have struggled, there’s evidence that independent retailers have bucked the trend, with a survey by online retailer OnBuy revealing openings of independent stores had exceeded closures in all but two areas of the UK.

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