Shoppers move away from traditional high street to local, trendier alternatives

New data from Yext, the Search Experience Cloud company, shows consumers are swapping traditional main shopping areas for local retailers and leisure outlets.

The data – which looked at 11 major high streets across four of the UK’s busiest cities: London, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol using Yext’s proprietary data between January 2017 and July 2019 – showed impressive reading for more ‘bouji’ high streets including Kings Road, London. The Chelsea location showed a huge 137% increase in ‘customer actions’ between 2017 and 2018.

However, the ‘customer actions’ – phone call clicks, website clicks and direction clicks on search platforms – only increased year-on-year for Oxford Street by 20% comparatively.

Similarly, up and coming Kings Heath in Birmingham is experiencing a boost in customer intent as customer actions grew by 20% from 2017 to 2018, and has already seen an average of 8% increase in 2019 up to July compared to 2018.

Boasting a thriving high street, and a host of pubs, restaurants and cafes, it has overtaken its city centre counterpart as the favourite destination for retail and leisure activity; Birmingham City Centre (New Street, High Street and Corporation Street) only grew in customer actions by 7% year-on-year in comparison.

What’s more, data showed an overall increase of 19% in customer actions last year compared to 2017, as consumers are increasingly looking for directions online before deciding where to shop.

Jon Buss, Managing Director at Yext, commented, “This data is really an eye-opener for physical brands and retailers, not least because consumers are becoming more open to trying new experiences outside of the traditional high street. Yet the journey of physical retail is one that often starts online; increasingly, consumers are asking questions about the best places to shop in and visit, and this can have a direct impact on footfall in high streets. This is why retailers and brands need to ensure they are answers-ready when consumers are searching online for information and meet customers at that moment of purchase intent.”

The data was compiled from 217 million Google Search Views taking in locations on the high streets relating to retail, food and hospitality (i.e. restaurants, hotels, bars, pubs).

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