Over the last few years, I have noticed that there has been a shift in the way high street businesses are run and how they are viewed. The once humble high street shops, which were establishments that sold a variety of goods, are gradually becoming more like discount stores. The traditional high street shops are being replaced by larger format shops, which offer a limited range of goods, but are more profitable. The changes in high streets seem to be following a similar pattern to the changes in our society as a whole. As time goes on, we have become more comfortable with technology, and yet, the majority of high street business owners still have old-fashioned methods of running their business. High street businesses are the backbone of the British economy. As they go, so goes the nation. But one of our key industries has been facing tough times in recent years. The increasing use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are having a significant impact on the sales of smartphones. There’s now a greater divergence between the sales of smartphones and those of feature phones, with the former accounting for around 30% of all handset sales. What is Happening to High Street Businesses? High street retailers are feeling the pinch, and their outlook is not getting any brighter. In response to customer demands for more choices and better prices, retailers are unleashing whole new product categories that consumers had not previously been exposed to. But many of these innovations come with huge risks: not only do they increase the competition for space and revenue, but they also pose a threat to the retail environment. Why are High Streets struggling? There are lots of reasons for the failure of high street retailers. Many brands decided to stop investing in stores, choosing instead to focus on online sales and marketing. Others were hit by the 2008 recession and were forced to slash prices to survive. With the UK economy improving, some stores are trying to get their mojo back. The High Street Return? High street shops may be closing left, right, and center, but there are still plenty of businesses open in the UK. These include restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, and – of course – shopping malls. But with shop rents looking set to rise by an average of 4%, it’s not surprising that there is increasing speculation that high street shops will close their doors for good. What can we expect from High Streets? High street shopping is on the up again. In the first quarter of this year, the growth in sales of high street shops overtook the growth in sales of supermarkets. And the high street is not just taking over; it’s beating supermarkets in terms of growth: in 2006 they had an annual growth of 3%, while it was 2.8% in the first quarter of this year. Is this just a blip? One of the biggest debates in retail is how to stay relevant in an ever-changing digital world. High street retailers say that online sales will continue to grow and that their stores will adapt their offerings to this new model. The “In-Store” experience will become more and more important in the years to come and will be a cornerstone of their offering. One of the greatest things about working in retail is the fact that you get to see the world. And while there are a few opportunities to go on exchange trips, you’ll be working with other staff members who come from all over the globe most of the time. I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the different cultures, but you’ll probably also have noticed that not all cultures are the happiest when it comes to shopping. There are multiple ways to look at the high street. It is worth remembering that high street shopping is not the only way to shop, but they are a useful option for those who have not yet mastered the art of online shopping. Those four walls are more than a place to browse the best deals; they are a constantly changing space that is filled by stores that offer new, innovative, exciting, and desirable products. High streets are melting pots of ideas and trends that are constantly changing to stay relevant. No, the future of high street businesses is not bleak. Yes, it’s changing fast, but it’s not a new concept.