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The theory of evolution & what it means for the high street

26th June 2018 - Gemma Spinks

Darwin’s theory of evolving and developing in order to compete and survive is not something that is new to any of us – well not if you grew up in the UK education system anyway. So why are we all so shocked that multiple retailers are shutting up shop in order to thrive?

Neo PR, high street, retail,

Darwin once said that individuals who are poorly adapted to their environment are less likely to survive and reproduce. As ecommerce booms, omnichannel becomes king and the consumer is more demanding than ever, this saying rings even more true with our very own high street. Retail is changing, big brands that have always appeared to be the kings of our high street are struggling and failing to evolve is no longer an option.

Those, like Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser, who are looking to scale back their high street presence should not be seen as failing but instead innovating. As they realise that retail is not what it once was and that in order to boom in the areas that are really growing, they will need to scale back and refresh the traditional channels that have been changing more rapidly than anyone expected.

Something else that brought this new age of retailing to light was a recent article about New Look and its aim of selling 80% of its clothing for under £20, and the first thing that came to mind was that this will quite quickly put them in direct competition with Primark. Now, many retailers wouldn’t want to be seen dead in the same category as Primark, which in turn has given Primark the permission it needed to take over the low-cost end of the retail spectrum. But not anymore.

New Look has seen an opportunity to adapt to its environment and evolve. And with the well-established ecommerce offering that Primark is missing, it could quite easily find itself ahead of the very successful fast fashion retailer. This willingness to analyse and adapt is what some of the other more traditional retailers are missing and on top of this, it is no secret that retailers have struggled to deal with the Amazon effect. Toys R Us, Borders, Clintons cards, amongst others, are all retailers that show us how the failure to evolve means failure to survive and this current period of high street turmoil is no different.

Retailers today must listen up and take note.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change, that lives within the means available and works co-operatively against common threats.” – Charles Darwin

The high street is not dead, it is merely maturing and adapting to its surroundings. Consumers and their needs and desires have come such a long way, as have the internet and the devices we all shop on, so to think the traditional high street was going to stand the test of time was naive. Retailers and consumers alike must work together to create a new normal when it comes to our high street or we will all be guilty of its demise.

What are your thoughts on the changing face of the retail industry? Tweet us @NeoPRLtd. 

Hattie Thompson
Rhea Cairns
Gemma Spinks

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