Today, The Guardian, published an article detailing accountancy firm BDO's findings that August has been the worst month for Britain's retailers since the financial crisis of 2008. Retail sales fell by 4.3% on the year before and this was the biggest drop since November 2008.
Poor weather and a spike in foreign holidays is said to be the main contributor to the poor performance, Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO commented, "The strength of the pound has encouraged Brits to spend more abroad rather than in the UK."
This news, coupled with the recent survey announcing Wales has the lowest shop vacancy rate in the UK, standing at 15%, could leave you feeling at a loss as to the future of the British high street. However a quick peek across the pond and we find that New York is beginning to thrive with new pockets of retailers creating new districts of fashion, homewares and food. Fluctuating real estate values, immigration patterns and shifting consumer needs dictate where shopping districts organically crop up and disappear. Jackson Heights in Queens is becoming well known for an array of shops selling saris and wedding ensembles attracting shoppers from all over New York as well as tourists. Manhattan's camera district may have disappeared with the influx of iPhones but the Diamond District continues to flourish. With so many retailers of the same ilk in such close proximity you wonder how they survive but it would seem it's all about the trust of your customers and with your fellow retailers being able to offer shoppers a whole block of products to experience.
So maybe it's not all doom and gloom for us here in the UK. Here at the GBE we recently reported on the growing strengths of our markets and there has been recent news of department stores going from strength to strength, following the growth of the overall economy as a whole. So maybe we too are developing pockets of success within the retail sector and it's now a question of bringing it all together to benefit our treasured high streets.