TIME TO THINK INDEPENDENTLY
The queues snaking around city centres when the shops finally opened last week were a sign that online shopping hasn’t completely satisfied our retail needs over the last few months.
The enthusiasm for shopping in a physical store was clear. For some, seeing, touching, and trying clothes on is not matched by the convenience of online shopping, no matter how good the images or speedy the delivery.
It stands to reason people were particularly keen to shop in Primark.
Those people waiting in line have been unable to access their affordable clothing for the last few months.
Despite having a website, Primark doesn’t have a transactional online shop. I wonder if the decision makers at Primark regret that now.
While Primark’s brand of fast fashion doesn’t conform to the sustainable direction high fashion is heading in, it meets the needs of budget-conscience families. Among the eager shoppers I bet there were more than a few parents glad to be able to kit their children out cheaply after a growth spurt in lockdown. The element of necessity is always a consideration when talking about the negative side of low cost clothing.
For the Great British high street, AW20 season was the modern-day winter of discontent, with so many closures, collapses and jobs hanging in the balance.
With the best will in the world, your local high street will no doubt be looking a little sad right now. Arcadia group has been dissolved, Cath Kidston has gone online only, and Debenhams’ departure leaves a sizeable hole in the landscape, but hopefully the success other brands have experienced via their online sales might encourage them to open stores outside of London.
I would love to see a flurry of independents opening up and down the country. Many towns and cities are lucky enough to have great multi-brand independent boutiques close by: Found in Bath, Quattro Rish in Reigate, Bernards in Surrey, Bod & Ted in Tunbridge Wells, Cricket in Liverpool to name a few. There is room for plenty more.
Pre-pandemic, crippling business rates and inflated city centre rents put many small brands off taking on bricks and mortar stores. But with so many units lying empty, perhaps there is an opportunity for an exciting change on the Great British high street.