The ‘online high street’ or the high street online? The implications for the urban retail hierarchy

Colin Jones, Nicola Livingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
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The UK has the greatest proportion of online sales in Europe. This study seeks to explore the differential effects of online retailing on the (evolving) hierarchy of shopping centres by examining current trends and underlying forces. The overall objectives of the paper are to qualify and explore the influence of online retailing in the decision making processes of leading retailers today; and to assess how virtual influences become manifest in the tangible built environment and have impacted the retail hierarchy? It differentiates online retail trends by sector and retailer size, and examines the consequences for different types of shopping centres. The empirical research is based on the changing location of stores of a major fashion retailer and interviews with three of Britain’s leading retailers that have seen the more substantial increase in online turnover in recent years. Major retailers are found to have integrated online offerings, such as click and collect, into a ‘multi-channel’ retailing approach. Online retailing has therefore become an inherent and central element within large retailers’ business and therefore real estate strategies, with considerations such as online marketplace penetration and possible ‘cannibalisation’ coming to the fore in decision making about store location. Online retail sales are, to a degree, drawing sales away from shopping centres but its impact on the existing shopping hierarchy is largely to reinforce established long term trends driven by the motor age and the shift to out of town retailing. This is symbolised by the largest ‘high street’ fashion retailer now having more branches in retail parks than town centres. Out of town shopping centres for example are benefitting because of the ease of goods collection offered by these locations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-63
JournalInternational Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research
Issue number1
Early online date28 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Oct 2017


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