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Is technology both the demise and savior of the high street?

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It’s an inescapable fact that the traditional British high street is in decline. From the huge number of high-street stores falling into financial trouble to the eye-watering rocketing of Amazon’s earnings, it is also clear that the pandemic has had an acceleratory impact.

The rise of online shopping was seen as the biggest threat to high-street traders prior to the pandemic making our phones, tablets, and computers vital tools to stock up on the essentials and luxuries.

Although personal technology and the pandemic have daggered the high street in recent months, could they actually show the way forward? Let’s take a look.

The damage was done

It’s not just shops that lay bare the damage done to the high street. A vast number of buildings on our high streets are used as offices, many of which are yet to be returned to as businesses look to preserve the safety of their employees as best as possible, while others may not have employees to bring back at all once restriction on our movements are eased again.

The knock-on effect is huge. No lunchtime rush has put food vendors and grocers to the edge, while the footfall than other stores would have benefitted from in towns and cities is yet to return to anywhere near pre-Covid levels.


Constantly changing advice from the government also has an impact, with staff being unfurloughed in the hope of an uptick in business, only to see local lockdowns ad the ‘rule of six’ further limit their commercial potential.

The new normal

All those challenges have given a number of different sectors and individual businesses plenty to think about as they look to maintain the health of their bottom line.

Agility has been the key. Whether it’s a Birmingham restaurant offering reheat-at-home meals or a flower shop becoming a factory to back-up a click-and-collect service, finding a way to adapt your existing offering has been key.

Of course, several businesses also found ways to put their skills to good use to help fight the pandemic. Brewers making alcohol gel, fashion houses churning out PPE, and food manufacturers feeding those frontline key workers all helped to keep the country going during the darkest days.

Tech to the rescue

So, if you’re looking to adapt your high-street business in these tough times, how can tech help?

Adapting a product-based business to allow for online shopping and delivery is a must, although that probably should have been a priority pre-Covid.


Marketing has become increasingly complex. Your shop window is no longer yours to sell yourself to the world. Digital marketing has grown in sophistication and effectiveness over the years. New tactics, such as online data collection, loyalty platforms, and call tracking for marketers can give you crucial insights into your customers now you no longer have that face-to-face interaction.

This will not only tell you more about those who are still buying from you but can give you vital insights into who might become a customer in the future and boost the ROI of marketing campaigns.

A look to the future

The big corporations might have won big during the pandemic, but that’s not to say that they can’t still help out the little guys – and the high street.

Amazon’s ‘Clicks and Mortar’ initiative made waves last year and could wind up being a crucial standard-bearer for the future of the British high street.

With the biggest brands moving away in their droves, space has opened up for bold new independent businesses to take control of the high street once again.

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Greg Russell
Greg Russell has gained a wealth of knowledge through his academic studies and career experience. He now looks to provide insight into matters of business, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He has been a guest author on various high authority business sites and continues to develop his knowledge and writing skills in order to provide valuable insight to his readership.

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