New research reveals our High Street's future

15th Nov 2016

The High Street must be seen as more than just a diverse collection of shops. It must become a ‘destination experience’

The future of the High Street will not be won solely from individual brands rejuvenating their store experience. The High Street must be seen as more than just a diverse collection of shops, bars and restaurants. It must become a ‘destination experience’ for families, providing a place of entertainment for all, with a range of shops, food and beverage outlets, and entertainment venues (cinema, virtual reality centres, mini theme parks, etc.). What’s more, the experience needs to be joined up so that shoppers can use a single app to book online, pick-up pre-purchased items, collect loyalty points and so on. Council authorities need to act now and turn their High Streets into destination experiences.

According to Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index, much of September’s spending was from the leisure industry, rather than being spent at retailers. Growth was led in the recreation and culture sector which benefitted from a 6.8% uplift in consumer spending, while hotels, restaurants and bars enjoyed a 6% spike. “Growth was once again driven by the experience economy, as people spend more on meals out, family holidays and trips to the theatre,” said Kevin Jenkins, Visa UK and Ireland Managing Director.

The Omnico Retail Gap Barometer asked respondents what would draw them back to shop at the local High Street with 29% revealing they’re drawn by restaurants and 23% by pubs. 20% are enticed by a cinema outing, rising to 34% for 21-year-olds or under and 23% of women are drawn by seasonal entertainment, such as Santa Grottos.What would bring people back to the High Street?


Intu’s Lakeside shopping centre is ready to embrace this trend with 2018 marking the opening of a Nickelodeon-themed indoor family entertainment centre, featuring themed amusements, rooms for parties and a dedicated food and beverage area, not to mention the beloved characters.

Given consumer demand for a more entertaining destination from High Streets, the impetus is now on councils, landlords and a consortium of retailers to re-invent it. To create a joined-up experience using technology at the heart of this rejuvenation.

Theme parks and destination resorts in Orlando and elsewhere in the world, are a good source of inspiration. By offering the ability to pre-book restaurant tables, dining and meal options, they’re reducing queue lengths and making the theme park experience that much easier to navigate. At SeaWorld Orlando for example, an app allows guests to buy menu items from on-site restaurants in advance so they do not have to queue or wait for food.

In addition to the ability to pre-book the dining experience on the High Street, there could also be a shared transactional experience, again similar to that which Disney resorts use. In 2013 Disney launched its MagicBand wristband providing visitors with the ability to not only gain access to the various attractions, but to pay for food and beverage entirely cashless.

Learning from the examples of theme parks, the High Street could completely reinvent the way we shop, providing an integrated, technologically-connected retail destination experience.   


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