Gap to scrap UK stores – is there any hope for the highstreet?

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The pandemic has provided an opportunity for traditional retailers to fast-track change. In Gap’s decision to close their 81 UK stores and move fully online, they are taking their products to where their customers are, and ultimately optimising costs. While this is concerning news for the British Highstreet, investing in digital is the only way businesses can defend their competitive advantage.

For those still heavily invested in brick and mortar retail, the rise of e-commerce continues to pose a significant threat, as consumers move towards e-commerce for their ‘every-day’ shopping. However, not all success will come from online – the continued popularity of stores like Primark and TKMaxx shows that in-store engagement still has a lot of potential, if the shopping experience is exciting and unique enough.

However, these models aren’t easy to replicate. To stay competitive and emerge as stronger organisations without losing their physical presence, retailers could use digital technologies and data science to optimise their product range, to meet current demand and align their marketing spend to emerging trends. Using these insights to provide category-focused weekly offers to excite customers, and then communicating these promotions regularly to maintain traffic, will also help to increase footfall and drive sales.