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East Midlands Chamber News

Online retail threat to high street

Tablets can be their own internet link, mobile phones can be mobile offices.

Trains and buses now offer wi-fi, which means people can work while they travel between meetings, journeys which were once just dead time as far business was concerned.

The information superhighway influences all aspects of our lives these days and nowhere is that impact more keenly felt or seen than in the retail arena.

Woolworths is a good example of how the impact is felt.

Most reasonably-sized towns once had a Woolworths store. Now there are none but the company continues to trade as an online retailer.

As people become more trusting of the internet they are more willing to shop online.

Men, it seems, are keener than women to shop virtually.

In a large shopping centre just off the patch there are TopShop and TopMan stores. They are owned by one company. TopMan is men’s clothing, TopShop caters for women.

Of the two, 93 per cent of trade is carried on at TopShop, seven per cent at TopMan.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” said Ian Snow, Managing Director of Central Technology. “I think it reflects attitudes to shopping.

“As a man, I’m happy to buy shoes off the internet but women still prefer that service and interaction that comes from buying from a shop.”

Ian doesn’t see the internet taking over from the High Street, but he does see it offering a different service, one that will appeal more to men than women.

He also doesn’t see it replacing the traditional office.

“I think it’s important for workers to continue to have proper interaction with one another, it leads to discussions, ideas being bounced around, creativity and stops workers feeling isolated.”