Is Technology Killing The High Street?

With the news that American toy and juvenile products retailor Toys R Us has filed for administration, and Maplin is also following suit, it really does seem that the ever progression of internet shopping, alongside some other key variables, are killing the high street, and subsequently businesses that used to thrive off people shopping physically, rather than remotely, are also beginning to suffer. I want to take a deeper look into what is going on in our high streets across the country, and how they are beginning to decline. 

This article isn’t a rant about how the internet is destroying the high street, more just highlighting another way retail is evolving. Independent shops are dying out because big chains are cheaper, give a richer diversity of products, and are easily accessible, thus independent shops are dying out. Now, with Internet shopping, there is an even bigger diversity of products, and you can peruse shops from all over the world, without having to travel anywhere. We are in the technological age, with technology always changing and adapting to new and up coming trends, so when there is a huge market to be filled, such as shopping and retail, it is no surprise that technology has come up with an easier, more efficient way of getting the job done. The very occurrence of these will always bring casualties. Toys R Us is a perfect example of this. 

BBC business correspondent Emma Simpson sums up the decline of Toys R Us: “Toys R Us have made a loss seven out of the last eight financial years. Financially weak, Toys R Us have been unable to adapt to changing shopping habits. These days, many shoppers don’t want to drive 20 minutes to a big out-of-town warehouse to buy toys.” If you cannot, or are unwilling to adapt, then you won’t be able to survive in the world of retail. Trends change and sometimes these companies have no control. You could argue that this was always coming, especially since the rise of online retailers like Amazon, eBay and Argos. 

Julie Palmer, regional managing partner at professional services firm Begbies Traynor has her own take on the demise of Toys R Us. “Rising costs from National Living Wage, inflation, ongoing pressure on consumer spending and the continued rise of the internet are hitting retailers with a big high street presence hard.” The combined job loss from both Toys R Us and Maplin is looking at being around 5,500, and the only fault in their business plans is that both retail and consumers have evolved. Such is the very nature of retail. 

Personally, I consider myself a romantic when it comes to high streets. I like walking around a vibrant street, popping in and out of shops, then grabbing lunch and a coffee in one of the many coffee shops, but even I can’t deny the fact that it is both easier, and sometimes even cheaper, to roll over to my laptop, and do all my shopping in the comfort of my bed.