back to article More Brits desert high streets to spend £50bn online

Evidence of the agonising demise of Blighty's high streets piled up today as comparison website Kelkoo announced that UK e-sales jumped 14 per cent to nearly £50bn last year. The average Brit web shopper spent about £1,400 online, picking out 39 items, in 2011 - and Kelkoo is predicting that's going to rise again this year. …


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  1. fixit_f

    One of the main things keeping the high street alive is the inflexibility of couriers

    Main problem for me with shopping online is that I'm not going to sit at home all day waiting for something if I can help it - so it's still easier for me to pop out to Currys or wander down the high street to buy something if it's bigger than will fit through my post box, or high enough value that the courier wants a signature or can't leave it outside. The moment somebody comes up with a design for secure "dumping boxes" at domestic properties that couriers are happy to leave goods in, the death of the high street will be significantly closer. Perhaps it would be something like a large steel box bolted to the wall, with a 1 use code to open it that you'd type into the couriers website at the point of sale.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Interesting thought

      The other thing that's helping keep the high street a little further from death, is the ability to order on line and pick up the article from a store when it's convenient.

      It's about convenience and shopping in the traditional sense isn't very convenient at all

    2. JimmyPage

      If you are an El Reg regular

      Amazon are already planning ways to accomodate you ...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Many retailers already do, with collection and delivery being made to agreed partners (such as your local paper shop).

      I've shopped on-line for nearly a decade now. Why does it take so long for people to catch up?

      Shopping as we know it will die a death and more and more people realise the convenience of online. Shopping in store will truely become a hobby.

    4. G Murphy
      Thumb Up

      Without naming names

      If courier companies can't sort themselves out then I wouldn't signal the end of the high street any time soon. We had some awful experiences with a certain re-branded delivery company in December, which decided to outsource it's deliveries to 'local' delivery men. Queue a two and a half week wait with no possible way of contacting the delivery man, and no wway for the courier to contact him/her and track it.

      I'd rather pay 10% more to keep a store alive so that I can:

      a) see the product before I purchase it - not so important with CDs/DVDs etc, but nigh on most other things you want to see, and feel, what you're getting

      b) take it away right there and then

      c) be able to take it back without having to repackage and stand in line at the post office on a saturday morning

      d) occasionally actually get to speak to someone who's more knowledgable about the product than you are

    5. Gene Cash Silver badge

      This side of the pond....

      It's apparently a cardinal sin for UPS/FedEx to have to return a shipment, so when they slap the yellow sticker on the door, I just remind them I paid them to deliver to my door, and they can either do that or return it to the vendor, and the vendor can give me a refund including shipping charges.

      I started doing this after having to leave work and go to the UPS depot in a VERY bad part of town, with potholes big enough to swallow a Landrover, and playing the "where is my package? is it on a truck? which truck? why can't we contact of the driver?" game for 2 days.

    6. CmdrX3

      The trouble with your steel box idea though is that unless you have a camera recording what is going on it's too easy to abuse. If you have two deliveries for example, what's to stop the second driver from nicking your first package and blaming the original driver, or for them to use the code then not put the parcel in the box. They simply need to say they delivered it and the customer is trying it on. Now I'm stop saying delivery drivers are thieves, as I used to be one myself and like in any other job they are normal honest people, but also like any other job there is always a few bad apples.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If that's a real concern...

        If you think you need a camera monitoring the delivery box... get a camera! They don't cost much now, probably less than most things that anyone would bother to nick from the previous delivery.

  2. Law

    It's not convenience for me

    It's the fact that they've taken away all the free parking for the spots around the town center s and shopping complex' around our area - I rarely (if ever) have coins on me now, tend to use card most days. If they did free parking still and prices similar to online retailers like Amazon then I'd go back to the high street.

    I understand a few pounds more for upkeep of the building, but not 25-50% inflated prices that we were getting in Currys/PC World/Game etc last time I shopped in any of them.

  3. JimmyPage

    Shopping centre near me ....

    is almost a poster child for the Naughties ....




    T J Hughes

    Past Times


    plus any number of there-for-six-months-then-gone-on-monday stores ...

    And I really can't see Debenhams making it to 2014

  4. DMSlicer

    Ridiculous Price Differences

    At the start of January, Currys were selling a certain model of Panasonic TV I was looking to buy for £499, Dixons had the same TV for £449 and Amazon for £399.

    I went into town to what was, until recently, a Dixons.

    It was now rebranded Currys.

    The staff member I spoke to stated that they would only sell me the TV for the standard price of £499, they would not price match any "web based companies" which apparently now includes Dixons (technically there are brick + mortar Dixons stores still in Airports, but apparently Currys don't count those even though Currys, Dixons and PC World are all owned by the same company) and although they have big signs up throughout the store proclaiming that "WE WILL NOT BE BEATEN ON PRICE!" this only applies to brick and mortar high street stores within a 30 mile radius of the particular branch of Currys you happen to be standing in. They wouldn't even entertain the notion of giving me anything extra like a warranty or mounting bracket to entice me to buy from them rather than online.

    Needless to say, I went home and ordered from Amazon, got free 2-day delivery, and used the extra £100 to pick up a new BluRay player to go with the TV.

    Brick and mortar high street shops need to provide some kind of perk if they expect us to buy from them over cheaper online stores... and that's not even taking into account the extra hassle of spending extra time + money on petrol and parking to actually visit them in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't blame them for not matching online stores with the caveat that they should price match any online store with its full delivery cost included if the item is in stock else they are soon out of business.

      Even good old Harvey Norman in Australia will price match online stores if you include delivery fees - which still is miles below their normal price. I saved $100 off of a $270 item in just this way.

    2. paulf

      Similar problem at HMV

      I found a CD I wanted in a HMV store (not a chart CD). Quick check online with the smart phone and bar code reading app and I found HMV's web tentacle had the same CD cheaper (a few quid on a price of £11 IIRC). Asked if they would at least reduce the shop price to keep the sale, even if they wouldn't completely match the online price. They point blank refused any reduction so I didn't buy the CD.

      When I got home I did a full online shop around and found it cheaper on Amazon. If I am going to shop on line and forgo having it that day I was going to find the best deal and surprise that wasn't HMV.

      Some retailers haven't figured this out. As soon as the person with money in their hand has left the store without making a purchase what makes them think they will win the subsequent online sale? Just like DMSlicer who found a better deal on Amazon since Dixrrys didn't want to negotiate to keep the sale.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Local Councils to blame

    Local Councils have tried hard to make our towns no-go areas for cars. Removal of free parking, price increases, engineered congestion, parking tickets by CCTV and even round here a CCTV camera car driving around all day out to catch cars illegally parked or loading, it's no wonder the out of town retail parks are continuting on reasonably well.

  6. Andrew Hodgkinson

    Are you being misleading deliberately?

    According to the BBC, yes, some retailers saw a drop, such as Morrisons and Tesco. Sainsburys reported record high Christmas sales, though; Greggs and M&S also saw a boost due to food sales; Primark and Ted Baker gave very good reports over Christmas.



    M&S: h


    Ted Baker:

    Overall, in the US retail sales roles about 1% compared to last year (astonishing in a so-called recession) and the BRC says that Britain overall did well too, though the high street had to introduce heavy discounts that mean the overall profits aren't as boosted as the sales numbers suggest.



    So some retailers did better than others... Hardly news. The underlying story, that both online and high street sales *were* improved compared with last Christmas both in the UK and US, is pretty impressive given the rather dire prevailing economic circumstances.


    ...more green "up" arrows than orange "down" there.

    So why just talk it down all the time and make out like the high street bombed? That's just not true at all. Unless the BBC are wrong - but they seem to have more video reports, statistics and external links to industry bodies to back up their figures.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Are you being misleading deliberately?

      Fair points, especially about Primark and that end of the high street, although I note that Sainsbury's "record" sales equated to a 2.1% increase - but as you say, not bad for a recession.

      The point we were trying to convey is that the traditional tech/gadget/electronics end of our shopping centres is having a hard time against competition from the web.


      1. Matt 4

        also how much of sainsbury's sales were made via a website?

  7. Mister_C

    We're going back to bricks & mortar

    If my wife's recent experience of online shopping from the website of a major store (WHo Shall remain nameless) is anything to go by, we'll be ditching online shopping soon.

    She ordered a mini filofax (yes, how 80s) last December and after they'd sent her the wrong order, then sent part of the order, then admitting their systems were locked up they're trying to weasel out of completing the order.

    She's not out of pocket at the moment thanks to them refunding her card but she's stuck with a 2012 filofax diary and no filofax to put it in.

    Needless to say, trading standards will stay in business for a while yet...

  8. b166er

    If you removed stock and cash (cheaper insurance, no cash-trained staff) from high street stores and replaced them with usable hands-on demonstration items and internet-based pay kiosks, you could WALK to the town to meet your friends for a coffee (knowing you didn't have to carry anything with you).

    Whilst there, you could try a vacuum cleaner to see if it's any good. You could then order it online in the 'store' and have it delivered to your home by the time you got there.

    If the above took off in a big way, you could have more distribution centres and delivery drivers and items would get delivered within hours rather than days. It would also make personal dropboxes viable.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Compare On-Line with High Street...


    - Best price

    - Easy to compare between modes

    - No travel / parking costs

    - Time saved

    - Stock levels visible

    - Large items delivered directly

    - Delivery to your preferred location

    - No shop soiling/seconds

    High Street

    - Pick it up same day, if in stock

    .....err that's it

    You pays yer money, yer takes yer choice

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Verified by Visa

    If many more sites opt in to this pointless, pain in the arse procedure, I'll be heading straight back to the high street.

    If I can find it.


    1. paulf

      Even then e-tailers ignore the result

      Last week I ordered some shoes from an online retailer that shall remain nameless. They also have a small number of bricks and mortar stores but since I didn't want to spend most of a day and £12 on a train ticket to get to a store I opted to buy online with free delivery.

      I went through the purchase, entered all my details correctly, answered the Verified by Visa stuff all fine, the order went through and my card was charged. The next day they cancelled the order and refunded me because it was scored as a high fraud risk as

      1. I live in a flat, and

      2. I wanted it delivered to work

      The fact that the details I entered for my card (billing address, CVC etc) were all correct, and the 3D verification (generic name for Verified by Visa, or Mastercard Securecode) was also fine was irrelevant. Usually if the 3D security is validated and all other details are correct a retailer should be fine sending stuff to a 3rd party address. Considering their main demographic is the 18-25 age range I can see a lot of them living in flats, unless they still live with their parents.

      I had to call them up and explain that I wasn't a fraud risk and I was happy having stuff delivered to a different address. I then had to go through the whole shebang again to place the order which they did process and send thankfully.

      On another topic in this thread - if I couldn't have personal stuff delivered to work then I'd only spend a fraction of what I currently do online because the faff wouldn't be worth it. Especially as RM in all their wisdom closed the local delivery office in the village just before Christmas (yes I know!). Before that carded items were available in the DO the next day, now it takes them 72 hours to leave it at the post office branch about 200 yards down the road. FFS.

  11. Southern

    Peacocks in your high street? Not for very much longer after yesterday's announcement.

    Price is the main thing forcing me off the high street. For the products I buy, these rarely need a physical inspection (PC parts, music, dvds) and I can get these much cheaper on the internet through the usual suspects than I can in the high street.

    I still appreciate the ability to try things out, especially things like headphones, clothes and TVs, only to then find them cheaper online.

  12. lurker

    Most online retailers don't have a choice, basically once you get to a certain size your bank says "you have to have this" as part of their PCI DSS.

    (Yes, I do work for a large-ish online retailer, we HAD to implement VBV/Mastercard securecard, I assure you that it was in no way optional).

    1. Trevor Marron


      I never have to put any extra details into the Mastercard secure system, the transaction just goes through.

      Perhaps if people voted by moving their account to a bank that uses a Mastercard backed payment/credit card.

      1. Mister_C

        Mastercard backed? Good luck

        Credit cards widely available but MC debit cards are only available through Clydesdale and its subsidiaries.

        NatWest & HSBC both claimed "increased security" as part of their decision to push Visa

  13. Trevor Marron

    Why go to town anyway?

    My last major purchases have been domestic appliances that no-one holds in stock and offer next day delivery.

    So as an example, a Bosch tumble dryer I bought just before Christmas. Go to Currys in the high street, queue to get into the car park, pay to park 3/4 of a mile away, have to deal with the store staff, eventually get through the check-out after discussing why you don't want the 3 year warranty (Bosch was doing a free 4 year warranty at the time), pay £680 and they will deliver it free tomorrow, because they only dispatch that model from the warehouse. Alternatively buy on-line during works time from Dixons for £579 and guess what, free delivery tomorrow.

    Just had the same on-line experience twenty minutes ago buying a dishwasher. Cheaper from Dixons and free delivery tomorrow, but not a stock item on the high street.

    Little wonder the high street is dead.

  14. Jay Clericus

    town is good for some stuff

    Ordered a passive graphics card from a 100% ebay seller. He posted me one with a fan as the one advertised was apparently just for display purposes along with the model number. Eventually got a replacement.

    Local hardware store sold me a pocket torch and batteries for about £10, 5 replacement batteries were about £6 and then went online to get 50 for about the same price.

    Couriers - any company that does not use royal mail loses my business, city link managed to bend the internal disk drive chassis so badly that all the drives fell to the bottom of the case, but did not want to compensate me as I had not opened the case to check it on the doorstop. RM were excellent for the next pc and their depot is 10 mins walk away, unlike city link who delivered when they knew I was not going to be at home and had to drive 90 mins to their office or it would be returned to sender.

    have used pc-world's reserve online deal to get a significant saving simply by reserving it online and picking up on the way home from work, the old guy in the queue was gobsmacked at having to pay another £30 on the same item that he had picked up after me :)

    argos is local, so reserve online to make sure it is actually in stock and can compare / review before buying in large text :)

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      "town is good for some stuff"

      Interacting with ratboys mainly.

  15. brainwrong


    "The average Brit web shopper spent about £1,400 online, picking out 39 items, in 2011..."

    Does that include delivery charges, and how much were they?

    As for not being home to accept delivery, I get stuff delivered to a friends. The few sites I've bought from have all allowed me to enter a delivery address different to the invoice address.

    1. Luke McCarthy

      Or deliver to workplace

      If you work somewhere that allows that.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. David 138

    It's nice to have a look at things, and i do go to the high street to look at products im unsure about. The problem is I then go home and buy it online :P

    The high-street can be 100% more expensive in some cases if not more.

  17. ZillaOfManilla

    What will actually happen to the "Hight Street"

    As in the brick and mortar stores will close (if you listen to some comments above), but then what? What do we do with large buildings with only front and rear access, and possibly only one natural light source?

    Its sad to see this happen, but supermarkets started the trend of out of town shopping, now the out of town sites are feeling the strain.

  18. Fenton

    Profits for the post office

    Here's a novel Idea.

    Rather than the likes of UPS, etc going back to their own depot, why not deliver (and pay a small fee) to the local post office. Just like we do if Parcel Force are delivering an item.

    That way we always have a local pickup point and the post office gets a bit of extra money.

    1. John Sturdy

      That could be good... if local post offices were open outside the hours when most people are at work anyway.

      1. John Sturdy

        A better holding location

        On further thought, rather than trying to get Post Offices to stay open longer, it makes more sense to get things delivered to your regular pub... now there would be a good tradition to start!

  19. pompurin

    I think the phrase 'the report of my death has been greatly exaggerated' sums it up. The high street won't die, but it will evolve into something quite different. People have become more savvy and now realise that the rip off prices that high street retailers have relied upon for so long are no longer acceptable.

    After reading the reports it seems that the sales at some of the retailers went up, but their profit margins went down. Why is that bad for the shopper? It means the retailer wasn't able to rip you off as much as they usually do.

    Let us hope this is a sign of consistently lower profit margins for all the big retailers.

  20. jason 7

    Comet is a mess.

    Went into my local Comet superstore a couple of weeks ago, it was awful.

    No real organisation, the flat screen TVs had no sense of organisation. All the sizes randomly scattered around so you couldn't get any idea of comparison. New stock mixed in with old etc. etc.

    The best bit was their clearance table. All the stuff that by the looks of it had been run over or used as a doorstop in the back of the store. All with an amazing too good to resist £1 off!


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