High Street R.I.P?

The high street is dead, long live the high street

High street sales fell for the fifth month in a row in June according to data released by advisory firm BDO. It is the first time in at least 12 years that in-store growth had not topped 1% in a single month for the first half of a calendar year.

So that’s it then. Alas poor high street I knew him. Online retailing is the future and we might as well get used to it right? Well if that were the case then why is Amazon (the Elvis of online retailing) investing so heavily into bricks and mortar?

When you look at their recent flagship trial in Seattle, the first thing I notice isn’t the technology it’s the staff. With automation of functional tasks such as scanning, till operation and shelf replenishment, staff are freed up to spend more time interacting with shoppers and offering that personal and emotional engagement. This is what sets a bricks and mortar store apart from the online experience…and Amazon know this.

Shoppers know this too and that’s why stores that try to replicate rather than differentiate themselves from the online experience are the one’s that are struggling, whereas stores that show the value in friendly, helpful and, above all, knowledgable staff are the ones that are most likely to thrive. I took a walk down my local high street and I wanted to showcase a retailer who I believe is ticking the right boxes.

The Good Drinker is a local independent wine shop in West Norwood, London and it’s everything you would want a high street retailer to be. Incredibly knowledgable about their product – the owner sources every bottle himself and will often offer up recommendations to taste across various price ranges. They also collaborate with other local businesses – doing food and wine events with the local Italian restaurant next door. The staff remember me when I go in (maybe it’s a sign I drink too much!) but they say hello and ask how my little boy is getting on…it’s the personal touch that makes you want to come back. That coupled with their expert knowledge makes for a retail experience that you just can’t replicate online, and that’s the secret to success in my opinion

We spoke to the KAM Community and 40% of wine shoppers would want recommendations when shopping for wine and yet 81% of them don’t think that supermarket staff are knowledgable about the wine they sell. The opportunities still very much exist for high street, independent retailers to offer a unique experience. How do you like those grapes?

Want to know more about our insight into the importance of staff in stores, then let me know by just replying to this email 

Blake Gladman

Hi, I'm Blake, Strategy & Insight Director at KAM. I look after all our research products and manage the collection and delivery of insight throughout KAM. I love long runs and good food (the perfect life balance).