Retail woes keep piling up: a net 1,234 stores shut across the UK’s top 500 high streets in the first half of the year, according to research by PwC and the Local Data Company – a rate of 16 shops day.
High business rates and parking hassles and charges must share some of the blame. But so, too, must the shopping public – and in particular the midnight online shoppers. A survey released this week by John Lewis points to a 23 per cent spike in spending by people shopping online while in bed.
One in 15 of all online purchases were made while the rest of the country slept – between midnight and 6am – according to card spending data from the John Lewis Partnership Card.
Women account for two-thirds of night-time purchases, with after-midnight searches focused on holidays, general retailers and supermarkets. Time-strapped women seek to bring their frenetic days to a close with a burst of retail therapy.
But it’s not just women. I checked back on my own online orders to find to my consternation that in the past month I have ordered, after midnight, large garden pots, bird food, loose leaf tea, numerous books – and a large ornamental parrot.
The challenge to retailers grows formidable in the face of ever-changing lifestyles and time-pressures heaped on millions of workers. For while most of us still enjoy the look, touch and feel of high street shopping, it comes with ever more time-gobbling hunts for parking spaces.
And meanwhile, a double standard has sprung up between retailers that have entered into a Creditor’s Voluntary Administration which can reschedule debts and shelters them from many costs, and those struggling to survive by conventional means.
But how can either compete against the nightly pillow-talk and click-of-a-mouse button on Amazon? Free hospital bed trolleys at the entrance?