Bishy Road High Street York

High streets such as Bishopthorpe Road, York, have an ‘enduring role’

The majority of shoppers prefer to visit the high street rather than order online, especially when it comes to valuable purchases, according to a new report today by Barclays.

The report stressed the “enduring role” of the British high street, with 63% of British shoppers still preferring to actually see valuable products before buying.

However, the report also showed a growing demand for high street shops to adapt to modern technology, such as smartphone payments, in order to compete with the internet.

Shoppers said they were more likely to visit a store kitted out with virtual reality (57%), smart fitting rooms (57%) or augmented reality (52%).

New payment technologies were highly rated by consumers, with many describing contactless (48%) and mobile payments (37%) as “life-changing”.

To continue prospering, high streets also need to offer more diverse experiences. When asked what types of outlet people want to see more of on their high streets, more independent specialist retailers (44%) and independent cafés and restaurants (36%) topped the list. However, it is clear that shoppers remain price-sensitive with discount stores (29%) being the third most popular option.

“Our research reveals that the public still see the high street as an essential part of the shopping experience and as a national treasure they want to see protected.

“Consumer expectations are currently moving faster than retailer innovation. More investment is needed to keep consumers coming back for what they love - great British high street experiences,” said Barclays head of retail and wholesale Ian Gilmartin.

“The conclusion from our research is that the key to success for many retailers is to offer a balanced high street and online offering, taking advantage of technological innovation in store to attract shoppers through their doors.”