20% of UK stores predicted to close in next five years, thanks to the web

Internet shopping has become something that many of us take for granted in recent years. Let’s face it, it’s hard to argue against the convenience of being able to research a product online, then buy it and have it delivered to your door. While the range of products that can be purchased easily online has been a big factor in the explosive growth in online shopping, price is often an even greater advantage, particularly in these straitened times.

But the soaring popularity of online shops appears to be the vanguard of doom for brick-and-mortar stores, which simply can’t compete with the low overheads and operating costs of leaner web-based retailers, and the economies of scale enjoyed by massive online stores such as Amazon. It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that the United Kingdom’s Centre for Retail Research (CRR) predicts that 20% of the nation’s physical stores will close over the next five years.

As BBC News reports, the CRR paints a rather depressing picture of what’s to come: as many as 62,000 shops are expected to shut by 2018, with up to 316,000 jobs lost in the process. It predicts that pharmacies and health and beauty stores will be the first to close in significant numbers, with those retailers offering music, books, cards and gifts next to go.

Within five years, the proportion of shopping carried out via the web is expected to double in the UK to 22%, with demand for shopping in physical stores falling to the point that many shops simply won’t be able to afford to stay in business any longer. 

Source: BBC News

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I also think the shops closing is a lot due to the weather. Shopping online is nice and saves having to get a soak in. At least in the UK (as in walking around town etc).

Just been to Homebase to get a new bog seat. The store did not have the colour I wanted in stock so have had to order one online!

Some would argue it's the simplicity of online shopping that's causing this trend....I say No it's not. It's the fact that most brick and mortar stores fail to be competitive and fail to innovate to keep up with the times, and thus die like the old dinosaurs that they are.

Keep-up or get left behind.
If that is the trend in your market place an owner should have created an online outlet rather then crying and then closing down.

I do like to go shopping now and again, get out and smell air/laugh at people etc, it's good fun.

High street prices are usually WELL over the odds for prices, but sometimes I don't mind if I can get it there & then, especially after using it.

I know in the UK we are protected by long distance selling, so if you don't like it you can legally send it back even if you just don't like it, but thats hassel.

But the soaring popularity of online shops appears to be the vanguard of doom for brick-and-mortar stores, which simply can't compete with the low overheads and operating costs of leaner web-based retailers, and the economies of scale enjoyed by massive online stores such as Amazon

Not only that but I've found that online stores generally have vastly superior customer service compared to brick and mortar stores. Even when the price is the same (no sales tax here in OR) I still prefer to buy stuff from Amazon / Newegg simply because of that.

And then there's the other benefits of convenience, nobody tries to upsell you ****, don't have to find parking etc etc etc.

The crux of the problem is that it simply costs too much to have a physical presence on the high street coupled with the fact it's too expensive for customers to then access the high street. For example business rates are soaring, shop rent is increasing and parking charges are on the rise in my local area. On the other hand for e-business tax can be easily avoided, warehousing is getting cheaper and internet access is getting cheaper.

Indeed.

If I buy a game for £20 online you can expect it to be about £30 in GAME or alike. Not only that I would need to drive to the city centre which would be about £4 in petrol and parking at £3. Not only cost but that's hassle and time. That same 2 hrs trip would take about a minute online.

Nobody wants to pay more for something if they can get it cheaper. There are certain areas where the high street is better. Personally I have to buy clothes from a shop as I have to try before I buy. The other benefit to the high street is your purchase is instant and not a day after at the earliest. I wish more would adopt "collect from store".

I always thought the same regarding clothing... but I buy most of my stuff from ASOS now. Free delivery, free returns, absolutely hassle free. Plus there's always a discount code hanging around somewhere.

Most stores where I live have been replaced by betting shops & café's. The average UK high street is a very glum place, not easy to get to & there's nowhere to bloody park so good riddance.

Moving forward, I can easily see the traditional high street being replaced by large retail parks or Malls which will cater for people who do actually want to shop at a location where everything is in one place.