The term high street retail refers to a commercial space with certain precise characteristics: a portion of real estate, usually the ground floor, used for commercial activity, located in an area of a city of high attractiveness for end customers, based on a combination of factors, including location, visibility of the activities, passage and the presence in the vicinity of other activities with the same commercial attractiveness.
While in its original Anglo-Saxon meaning the term indicated the main street of a city in which any category of activity, even non-commercial, was located, today the term high street is used exclusively to connote commercial properties located in the most prestigious and exclusive areas of major cities (hence the term high street retail).
High street retail, which today has become synonymous with luxury shopping streets, is always located in central areas of large cities. Often it coincides with historic shopping streets, or sometimes with a part of the city with a particular commercial vocation.
The distinctive element today is certainly the ability to offer users, buyers and non-buyers alike, a true shopping experience that is only possible by immersing oneself in a prestigious context, with more than one brand in the luxury goods segment that are, by their very vocation, characterized by an element of exclusivity.
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on shopping streets
Like all specific segments of the real estate sector, retail has also suffered the impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown in Italy. In particular, there were very marked effects especially in the clothing and consumer electronics sectors, those most affected by the travel restrictions imposed in all cities and the simultaneous increase in online sales for these two types of products.
This phenomenon has generated new consumption habits, with an acceleration of e-commerce but also the rediscovery of proximity shops, the process of remodeling spaces and the enhancement of comfort.
The digital component is now central to the purchasing process, a trend that is clearly and continually growing. Digitalisation and physicality of the shop must go hand in hand, giving the end consumer the possibility of ordering products online, choosing the shop most convenient to reach and collecting the goods in the latter. But looking specifically at the high street retail segment, one observes that these trends have been more marginal. There are two components that have contributed to offsetting the effects of the pandemic: firstly, the expectations of retailers in the luxury segment who, although they have looked with interest at the new online shopping modalities also for high-end products, have been confident in a recovery of visits to their physical shops, maintaining their spaces in the most central shopping streets; secondly, the need to guarantee the end customer an increasingly unique and unrepeatable shopping experience.