Opinion: In 20 years time our high street will be unrecognisable

The pandemic has seen the closure of lots of well known high street brands including Topshop, Bensons for Beds, Debenhams and many more. People have taken to ordering their clothes online and this isn’t something that is going to end when life returns to normal.

Great Britain is well known for its beautiful high streets and being in the centre of Canterbury, a city that has won awards for the historic high street, I am ensconced in the high street shopping culture. 

There will always be a place for your Zara’s and Primark’s but unless they adapt to fit a more technological world high street shops could be in a lot of trouble.  

The future for those who work in high street retail is bleak. In Japan, they have robots instead of human shop assistants that zoom around the shops helping buyers with queries and finding sizes. This is something that I believe will be coming to British High streets very soon.

high street
The Shop assistants used in Tokyo

There are two reasons for this: one is that they are a lot more cost effective, they don’t require being paid as staff. This means that the unemployment rate would soar but the profit that high street shops bring in would also increase. The second reason is that technology is just more reliable, it will not need sick pay and can work longer hours than people can. 

As the world becomes more and more advanced in technology,  it is important that high street stores keep up with the latest internet trends and for some of them this is not an option.

In the past 12 months Canterbury has seen more than 40 shops close their doors for good and only 25 have taken their place, leaving nearly half the retail space in Canterbury empty. 

Shops such as Primark have refused to open an online shop, despite a £1bn lockdown loss in profits and the outcry from the public to set up a website.

People in this day and age are lazy, especially after staying inside for so long. Most people will tell you that they buy their clothes online because of ‘convenience.’ It is this ‘convenience culture’ that is resulting in shops having to close their doors for good.

If we want to have any sort of high street in 20 years time, we need to start making some changes. The high street needs to become more interactive to keep up with social media and online shopping. It needs to be as ‘convenient’ as we can make it so that we can keep up with the ‘convenience culture’ of the online world.