Don't write off the High Street

High Street shops closedIn 10 years' time, real bricks-and-mortar shops will have ceased to exist, our once-great shopping centres will be boarded-up empty shells inhabited only by rats and pigeons, and we'll be buying everything by pushing magic buttons on our computer keyboards.

The high street, you see, is out of fashion, going the way of flares and tank tops. And the young people of today, with their magic phones and iPads, want nothing to do with it.

There's plenty of evidence to back up that scenario as well, with our stores enjoying 10% less footfall than three years ago, and a few old favourites struggling badly -- HMV came so close to bust, Game Group is having a torrid time and sales are struggling at Argos, owned by Home Retail, just to mention three of those that are still standing.


But if you believe all that, you could be badly wrong. At least, that's what a recent study by Saatchi & Saatchi suggests.

The advertising agency asked 1,500 young people about their attitude to shopping, and found quite the opposite, with 78% of the respondents having been out shopping on the high street in the week before the survey.

The same kind of loyalty is perhaps not in abundance these days, with 63% saying they just go to buy stuff, and 46% reckon they don't have any emotional attachment to the shops they visit. But that's perhaps what we should expect youngsters -- who will mostly want to appear independent and free-thinking -- to say.

Another theme that came from the survey is that many young people would be interested in starting a high-street business of their own, with social venues being a popular choice. Again, their choice is perhaps not surprising, but it does suggest there may be a gulf between shopping and socialising that needs to be bridged.

New prospects?

Is there a new generation to come that will be better at integrating commerce with fun, and getting the best combination of online facilities, in-the-flesh social interaction and the actual selling of real stuff?

Well, I'm too old to understand what young people want, but whenever I venture warily into my local shopping hot spots, the great majority of people milling around look to be under 25.

So this survey might just be on to something, and it may well be too early to write off the future of the high street.

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