End of the high street as we know it?

The rise in home shopping will wipe out half of town-centre stores and sound a death knell for many well-known retailers by 2030.

This is the claim made in a new report from logistics experts Parcel Hero. The 2030: The Death of the High Street study highlights that, with online shopping in the UK now at £1 billion a week, the death of the high street could come sooner rather than later.

Parcel Hero’s head of consumer research David Jinks said: “The number of familiar high-street names being drowned by the growth of the internet shows no signs of abating, as Staples and American Apparel join the ranks of the fallen, and M&S prepares to close 53 stores.”

The report added that between 2020 and 2030, half of the UK’s existing shop premises will have disappeared. In 1950, there were 600,000 stores in the UK, compared with 290,000 in 2012. Just 220,000 will survive by 2020, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

The continuing increase in home deliveries, it said, would mean that between 2020 and 2030 a further 100,000 stores would close if the trend continues. This will leave just 120,000 shops on the UK’s high streets.

By 2030, the report said, e-commerce will account for around 40 per cent of all UK retail sales. Department stores have “crumbled” under pressure for online retailers and, of the surviving 200 large businesses, 48 are already labelled ‘in danger’ and 53 made a loss last year.

Parcel Hero claimed that e-commerce could save well-known brands, but sales would be at the expense of their own physical stores.

On a more positive note, the report concluded: “The high street will survive in one form or another in 2030, and perhaps as a more vibrant area than many are today. But there is little doubt that we are currently in a town-centre store ‘extinction event’ and that the familiar street of today is reaching a dead end.

“There will be vastly fewer shops in 13 years’ time, and many of the retail store names we are familiar with will no longer be found. Don’t go to your town centre expecting to buy a novel in the bookstore, a doll from the toyshop, trousers from the fashion shop or to use the loos in a department store. Because the odds are, they won’t be there.”

It predicted a return to a different kind of high street, more akin to the Victorian era. It said: “In 2030, it is likely that our high street will have returned to almost a Victorian scene – with shopping becoming a social activity with the vast majority of shops small independents serving fresh specialist foods – all delivered by Uber style crowd-sourced apps of course, rather than the traditional and infamous butchers boys of Victorian times.

“The high street will consist of fewer, mostly independent, shops – and it will have many more houses among the shops – perhaps bringing life back to some town centres that were previously ghost towns after 8pm. More convenience stores would be likely to stay open ’til late, as populations return to city centres, and these will also serve as parcel locker locations, which by 2030 will probably be the leading option for shopping deliveries.

“Convenience store peak periods will switch from 8am-9am for pre-work snacks and 1pm-2pm lunch, to 6pm-8pm as people return home to city centres for the first time in many decades.”