High street collapse challenges retailers to thrive not just survive

Toys R Us and Maplin are next in line for the retail graveyard as news of their collapse made recent headlines.

As the Centre for Retail Research predicts the number of shops across the UK will fall by 22% this year, they join a long list of closures recently with other British household names such as House of Fraser seemingly hovering in the wings.

This may signal another red light for high street retailers uncertain of their position in what seems a predominantly online world, but while shopping habits may have changed remarkably to what they were a decade ago, even five years ago, a golden opportunity remains for forward thinking retailers.

Retail is far from dead, it’s evolving and innovative brands are thriving.

Bike retailers such as Rapha have capitalised on the resurgence of coffee shops, drawing in the crowds who lap up artisan coffees and pastries in atmospheric and authentic settings that emphasise quality and provenance.

Primark stands out as one of the fashion retailers that’s streets ahead of the competition. The budget-conscious “of the moment” product range combined with a refusal to sell online, ensure it continues to expand and gain market share from rivals such as H&M and New Look.

“The dividing line between best-in-class retailers and market share donors is increasingly going to be determined by which retailers can cater to the evolving landscape. Those that find success have invested in the omnichannel model and have differentiated their products and customer service to draw customers in.” David Silverman, senior director of U.S. Corporates at Fitch Ratings.The most important key to survival is adaptation. Here are three elements retailers should consider.

Customer Experience

Customer Experience or CX maybe the latest buzzword making its way around the retail scene, but ignore this vital ingredient at your peril. The shopper should always be central to your strategy and understanding their needs and desires as well as what would deliver the most enjoyable experience is paramount to success. Living and breathing the world of your brand in-store is vital. John Lewis is training staff as actors to hone their service skills so that they can respond to growing shopper expectation for personalised style advice, events and beauty treatments.


Lulu Lemon and Nike have nailed this concept to a tee with their exclusive exercise classes and clubs. Creating hangouts for like-minded people to get together is not only an effective way to ensure brand engagement but to also give shoppers a reason to take the time to move offline and visit you in-store.


Forget unwarranted encouragement towards the most expensive item or old-school hard sell policy, today’s shoppers want honest, independent advice. A team of well-trained knowledgeable staff can turn around the plights of a high street store. Understanding the different aspects of a product, demonstrating passion and genuine interest is the first step not only to purchase but also to repeat visits and advocacy. Apple plays this card expertly offering customers more control over their in-store experience, they can engage with a choice of Product Experts, Creative Pros and Technical Geniuses who listen to customers needs, resolve their problems and enrich their Apple experience – even if it doesn’t lead to an immediate sale.

Need a helping hand?

SHOP from The Behaviours Agency is a unique communication tool that analyses retail environments to create new engaging experiences, considering personality, education, product and social engagement, navigation and promotion. We are offering one-hour free introductory Market Fresh workshops to help brands understand how they can not only survive but also thrive on the high street.