Retail in 2018…

November 11, 2013

Our friends at Centre for Retail Research have released an interesting report on what they see as the future of UK Retailing in 2018

Whilst we do not agree with all their findings, we do agree with a few areas and like the interesting statistics that they have forecast

Number 1

The number of High Street shops will continue to decline – this is very likely.

In my view, what needs to happen is the High Street needs to become more of a destination, with Shops, Restaurants, Coffee shops and entertainment….Just like the big Shopping malls do

Number 2

Etail (online Retail) will grow to over 20% of total sales – I personally think it will grow to more than that in non-food to 30% to 40%

RESULT – and the advice from Retail Potential…


If you have a shop on the High Street you have all that is needed to start an etail business – you can even start with just an Ebay store.

As I continually educate the High Street Independent Retailers – if you have a shop you have all you need to be a successful etailer….

  1. Product – you have it in store and in your stock room
  2. Photos – you have the stock and can take photos of the stock
  3. Details – you know about the product as you have it in store
  4. Customer feedback – you have an edge on “Online only store” – they have no idea what will sell as they have no customers to ask face to face
  5. People – You have staff to take orders, dispatch products and deal with customer service issue

Setting up an etail presence as a High Street Independent is 100% needed for continued success and to keep up with the ever changing customers

We are committed to helping Independent Retailers set up online – Keep posted for the launch of “Etail Success” – our programme to ensure you set up a successful Ecommerce Business…Launching in 2014

Building Successful ecommerce businesses - Retail Potential

Full report from Our friends at Centre for Retail Research below:

Retail in 2018 – Shop numbers, Online and the High Street


The Government has accepted the Centre for Retail Research proposal to turn many redundant shops into houses

The Centre for Retail Research published its analysis of how UK retailing will have changed by 2018 on 28 May 2013, entitled Retail Futures 2018.

Retail Futures 2018 forecasts that by 2018:

UK retailing has the highest proportion of online retail sales, so what happens here is being closed watched by foreign observers as Britain becomes a test bed for retail innovation.

Key catalysts for the looming retail crisis:

UK is facing a crisis. Retailing and retailers will either make clear strategic decisions that permit online retail to coexist with other retail channels in a multichannel world allowing bricks and mortar retailers to transform themselves, or, by avoiding making these decisions, multiple retailers will disappear or be so mortally wounded that a large minority of business categories become dominated purely online retailers

Much comment about retailing either sees shops as doomed (most shops will close as online takes over the majority of retail sales) or believes that online will peak, making the crisis shakeout in the industry (business as usual). In fact neither view is accurate, radical changes need to be made by retailers, town centres and the government to preserve what is best in retailing.

About the Report

Retail In 2018: Shop Numbers, Online And The High Street is a long report and is not available to download from this site. Please enquire to if you need a copy.

Store Vacancies

Store vacancy rates across the country have increased from 5.4% in December 2008 to 14.1% in March 2013 (according to the Local Data Company), a rise of 161%. Without intervention, the vacancy rate can rise yet further, perhaps above 20%.

Vacancy rates of main shopping area 2007-2012

Store Closures

Stores are always closing – and reopening – but this time the pace of change is considerable and the total number of shops by 2018 is expected to fall by 22% over the next five years to 222,000.

Number of retail stores 1950-2012

‘Thriving’ and ‘decaying’ retail towns and cities

Across the country the situation varies drastically as disadvantaged retail pockets become more prominent. More towns will need some reduction of retail space because of the fall in the demand for shops. However Retail Futures 2018 predicts that more than a third of town centres (41% or 153 stores) could experience a rapid decline by 2018 if no action is taken. Just over a fifth (78 or 21%) of towns are declining in retail terms and 75 are stable but under pressure. The retail centres most vulnerable are those near low-income populations located on secondary or tertiary shopping areas.

Of course the shops in some prosperous and tourist areas will continue to do well, but Wales, the North and the Midlands can expect a much higher proportion of stores to be shuttered.

The number of high street stores is expected to fall by 19.9%, but an even greater impact will be felt by neighbourhood stores. These will decline by 34,587 (-26.2%) as a result of the declining profitability of neighbourhood shopping in many areas, the unwillingness of multiple retailers to continue operating in small neighbourhoods and the move towards perceived lower prices and better availability of stores in town centres, retail parks and internet shopping.

But it is not only the high street that is affected. Major retailers like Tesco, Wickes, ASDA and B&Q have announced dramatic reductions in opening large new stores (though convenience is still massively important) and all have plans to subdivide giant stores, leasing space to other retailers.

Regional Impacts

The destinations that do well will be those: serving a mainly prosperous hinterland; areas of growth, new housing and young families; easy-to-reach tourist areas aimed at middle-income families; and areas where unemployment is low. The best performers will be areas like London, the South East, key shopping cities like London, Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester, and Glasgow, and tourist areas like Oxford, Harrogate, and Brighton. There will be retail problem areas within otherwise thriving decent retail zones (eg Oxford) and successes in areas where we expect large percentage falls in shop numbers. But in very general terms the changes in store numbers reflect the North-south divide.

Regional store closures and vacancy rates

Regional store closures and vacancy rates

Online Retail

Online retailing as a percentage of all retail sales is now 12.7%. Food online sales are very low (3.7% of all food sales) so that the share of non-food is now up to 19%. This will change quickly over the next five years, although we expect all four main grocers to develop massively their food online offers so that with Waitrose and Ocado the food online share should be up to 9.5% by 2018.

Growth of online retail

Growth of online retail

These figures are estimates. It may take a year or two longer before online retail gains 21.5% of the retail market but many commentators feel that the online share will get to 25% by somewhere around 2020-2023.

The Role of Shops

Retail stores will remain an important, although smaller, part of retailing in high streets, malls and retail parks as online continues to grow. The ‘normal’ retail model needs revisiting, under the combined pressures of high costs, consumer reluctance to spend, and rapid growth of online retailing.

The Shoppers of the Future

Customers now ‘shop’ in multiple ways, checking a store’s website, visiting one or more stores, looking at product reviews, viewing the prices of competitors on a smartphone whilst standing outside a store, and choosing finally whether to buy the goods in-store or online and collect it in-store or have it delivered to a nominated address. Retailers have to make clear strategic responses to the changing patterns of how consumers shop, including: deciding the proper number, type and location of stores (and the speed of any necessary disinvestment from stores); and how to integrate fully their physical stores, the online sites and other channels such as social media coherently.

The High Street of the Future

High streets are an essential part of town centres, creating employment and vitality; the best of them bring tourists and shoppers in – developing services, leisure and entertainment markets as well as retailing. Retail Futures 2018 argues that high streets are threatened by the current changes in retail structures and shows that the town centres of 153 UK towns (41% of the total) will experience a rapid decline as a result of changing retail patterns and need to shrink to survive. Some smaller and less successful secondary and tertiary sites may disappear almost completely. Retail Futures 2018 recommends that a pump-priming fund of £320 million is required to start redeveloping these problem town centres to turn failing and empty shops into good residential accommodation, create more service/entertainment/leisure outlets, and/or provide offices, doctor’s surgeries, classrooms/meeting rooms or other facilities for which there may be a local demand. As a result of this policy perhaps 15,000 – 20,000 new homes could be created over four years.

Don’t make a transformation into a crisis

Although retail change might seem to concern only retail employees and change-averse retail businesses, the transformation will have unintended consequences for the many hundreds of £billions tied up in retail property by pension funds, investment companies, shopping centre owners and retailers themselves. The current business model is intimately involved with real estate: a significant fall in property prices caused by major falls in the demand for stores (and store profitability) will affect all property assets for many years to come. One response will be to reduce rents (and therefore the profitability of developments). It is already having a significant negative effect on many UK high streets and a detrimental impact on town centres. Action now will prevent the transformation of retailing from becoming a long-term crisis for property markets and town centres.