Magazine article Marketing

Amanda Aldridge on Retail: Lifestyle Stores Are the New High-Street Heroes

Magazine article Marketing

Amanda Aldridge on Retail: Lifestyle Stores Are the New High-Street Heroes

Article excerpt

While some people complain about the disappearance of some of the more traditional shops from our high streets, I wonder whether they have given any thought to their replacements?

We all know that the onward march of the supermarkets has caused the demise of many independently owned merchants such as butchers, bakers and fishmongers as the focus has shifted to out-of-town outlets. And this trend also applies to more bulky purchases.

But it has not been all doom and gloom for the high street. Recent figures from the Yellow Pages Alternative Census reveal that new types of shops are replacing our traditional retailers.

There is obviously the rampant growth of coffee shops, but did you know that aromatherapy shop listings have also increased dramatically - by 5200% between 1992 and 2002? Or that cosmetic surgery listings jumped 1780% over the same period?

You may not have realised that make-up artists and beauty services have increased by 1007%, that reflexology listings expanded by 829%, or that the listings of Shiatsu practitioners grew by 3100%.

It is clear from this list that this new breed of outlets broadly falls into the categories of beauty and body image, alternative therapies and stress relief. They are a world away from the more traditional high-street fare.

It is clear proof - if any were needed - that we now take food shopping for granted. Improved standards of living have ensured food no longer consumes the bulk of our incomes, and the widespread availability and accessibility of food has dramatically reduced the time we spend buying it. It is a trend fuelled by supermarkets' one-stop shop mantra and their ability to replicate the 'specialist' experience with fish and delicatessen counters and fresh fruit and vegetable aisles.

As our desire for leisure pursuits and disposable incomes continue to grow, the emergence of these new stores should not be a great surprise.

What makes them especially relevant in today's climate is their suitability to high-street locations: they provide services that do not require the customer to walk out of the store with anything. In this era of out-of-town outlets, we are programmed to avoid carrying our purchases any further than a few yards. …

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