The British high street could lose 62,000 shops by 2018, make sure you know what’s coming!

The internet switch

The report, published by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR), found consumers turning to internet shopping will be the main reason for closures. The research claimed that 22% of all consumer purchases will occur online by 2018, twice the current level.

Whether that figure is right or now, customers are undoubtedly going to spend more of their money online in the future, but that doesn't have to be to the detriment of high street shops. Shop owners need to use the internet. Is your website optimised for mobile viewing? Does it reflect your brand? Will it make people want to come into your shop?

These are the questions entrepreneurs need to be asking if they want their shop to live on past the five year deadline the CRR has laid down.

The CRR compared the monthly costs of running a high street shop to equivalent online only store. The brick and mortar option could cost anything up to 15 times more than the web version. With this in mind, business owners will need to question whether a high street shop is a worthy use of their money.

Understand your industry

The research highlighted a number of areas where shops would struggle the most. Pharmacies and were singled out as the biggest risk area while books and music specialists were also under threat.

If your shop operates in these areas, it's especially important to be thinking about how to stay at the front of the pack and avoid dropping into the 62,000 zone. Running events in your space, you'll create a much stronger brand and help your shop stay in the minds of customers as others fall off the high street.

There are some great examples of this around the country, with Union Music Store's focus on events being a perfect lead for other businesses to follow.

Maintain a strong cashflow

Operating a shop comes with high costs and can result in unexpected drags on your cashflow. That means you'll have to be more careful about what's coming in, what's going out and if you can meet all your demands.

The King of Cashflow has been helping Smarta's readers ensure they always have enough cash to support their business. In the case of running a high street shop, predicting the rise and fall of the demand for your goods and staying on top of your supply chain are crucial lessons. At any time, increases in consumer demand or supply costs can cripple a high street business if it isn't prepared.

However, you also need to know how to build a strong invoicing system to make sure you are receiving the correct payments from all your clients and not missing any payment dates yourself.

The alternative

Of course, maybe you want to be one of the 62,000. With internet sales picking up each year, do you feel it's time to say goodbye to your high street shop and sell completely online?

If so, it's time to consider your options. You'll need a better website, great branding and a sure-fire way of getting yourself noticed if you're going to stop relying on footfall for sales.

And don't forget the other options that give you access to the high street. Look into pop-up shops and market stalls while considering the future of your business. There might be shop closures on the British horizon, but there's also a huge amount of opportunity for entrepreneurs.

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