Traditionally, the high street referred to a town or city centre that contained the bulk of an areas shops, and were vital to the functioning of the surrounding community through their employment and commerce opportunities.
Over recent years, the British high street has come under increasing pressure on a number of different fronts.
One of the largest threats has come from supermarkets like Tesco and Asda, who have branched out into providing non-food and electrical items, while simultaneously favouring locating their operations in out-of-town locations. The sheer scale of these retailers have allowed them to order in bulk, thus undercutting traditional retailers and slowly forcing a number of brands (such as Woolworths and Littlewoods) out of business.
The unfaltering growth of ecommerce is increasing undermining the value of the high street too.
Although brands like Argos and Currys have successfully diversified into launching their own online platforms, this has been teamed with the cutting back of their presence in town centres across the UK – with these voids now mainly filled by poundshops and discount retailers.
Some have even argued that out-of-town shopping centres like the Trafford Centre have now supplanted the high street as the preferred physical experience for consumers, with brands seeming to now also prefer locating their branches in these locations.