By Will Laing, International GIS Analyst, Cross Border Retail and Leisure
This year has been particularly disheartening for Britain’s high streets, with a number of high profile stores struggling (House of Fraser and Debenhams) and some entering administration (Toys “R” Us and Maplin). In contrast England’s World Cup campaign has exceeded many pundits’ predictions. Whilst ultimately England were unable to reach the final, a wave of national pride has swept over the country. Retailers will now be hoping to replicate England’s momentum to reserve their fortunes.
The obvious beneficiaries of England’s cup run were retailers selling beer, barbecue and big-screen TVs, however, more interestingly was the increase in sales of waistcoats. Reporters have dubbed this trend the “Southgate effect” due to the England managers iconic waistcoat wearing style. While England fans may believe that Southgate is the one, this might also be part of a wider trend of reverse casualisation. The older generations are increasing moving into casualwear, and so Gen Z shoppers are rebelling against their parents’ relaxed fashion (who are just as likely as them to don a pair of sneakers and a baggy hoodie) and have started to adopt smarter wear for their Instagram uploads.
Palace Skateboards, arguably one of the hottest streetwear brands currently, recently released a pair of penny loafers; something you would expect on the feet of your grandad rather than a skater ‘popping’ a heelflip. Other streetwear brands also seem to be embracing the enthusiasm for more formal wear with the likes of Supreme, Off-white and Bape collaborating with luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo.
Beyond waiting to see what else Southgate has hidden in his wardrobe, high street brands can also examine how players in the streetwear industry are proving so successful. END, a clothing company which sells a range of streetwear items, reportedly has experienced an average increase in profits of 73% over the last 3 years. END’s flagship store in Newcastle has a dedicated launch event space with a floor-to-ceiling video wall. Dover Street Market’s outlet in London has the feel of an art gallery in the way it displays its fashions. These stores often attract lengthy queues of consumers wanting to catch a glimpse of the in-store events.
While it might be difficult for all high street brands to emulate the exclusive buzz around these brands (and the Three Lions) retailers can offer more ‘experiences’ in-store. In order to prise consumers away from their Amazon baskets they must believe that they are visiting a shop which offers something more than a run of the mill store. This a difficult challenge for many retailers who may feel space not used to sell items directly is wasted and therefore expensive. However, it goes without saying that the Internet has changed the retail market and brick-and-mortar stores must offer something new and innovative. As with English Football fans, whose patience has been tried over many years, high street brands won’t want any more years of hurt and so must to adapt to the times if they want to remain relevant and retain a loyal and satisfied customer base.
William Laing works as an International GIS Analyst within the Cross Border Retail and Leisure team based in London. His key responsibilities involve providing actionable insight to assist clients in the delivery of their real estate strategies, whether that be in the form of new market entry, national expansion or micro-locational studies. He provides analytical support to the UK retail teams and their clients on matters such as regional economic data, GIS analysis, demographic profiling and retail impact studies.