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‘Convenience culture’ helps revive high street

High street

The number of smaller convenience stores on the high street is expected to increase as superstore market share falls, according to a new study.

Research into UK high streets by the University of Southampton also says there has been a “modest resurgence” in specialist shops and “artisanal” retailers such as bakers, butchers, tea and coffee merchants.

It concludes that there are fundamental changes to the way people shop which are transforming the high street.

“Convenience retail in town centres/high streets, both independently and corporately owned, has experienced significant growth over the past 15 years, a growth sustained during the economic crisis and subsequent period of austerity,” the report says.

That trend is expected to continue over the next five years, with convenience stores accounting for a quarter of the grocery market by 2019. The market share for superstores is expected to fall from 42% to 34.9% over the same period.

The study also finds that high streets that include cafes, bars and restaurants have longer dwell time and people spend more. Longer term shifts towards leisure, health and beauty services are also set to continue, while “recession-related” retail such as pawnbrokers and betting shops will decrease, the report predicts.

High streets minister Penny Mordaunt said the findings were proof that the country’s most flexible town centres were experiencing a retail resurgence despite competition from the internet and out-of-town stores. She also highlighted this summer’s competition, run by the Future High Streets Forum and the Association of Town and City Management, to find the best UK high streets.

“This report shows our high streets to be adaptable, creative and resilient,” said Mordaunt. “The Great British High Street competition is a chance to showcase those strengths, to bust myths about the long-term future of our town centres and to reward the local talent, team-work and energy that goes into making our high streets great places to visit, work or live.”