A retail expert from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has said the shock closure of iconic city shop Fenwick was down to its refusal to create an online shop.
Marketing Lecturer Nas Harrison said the announcement that Fenwick, in Market Street, is expected to close in March, was sad news but not entirely unexpected.
She said that while the opening of Highcross will have affected the number of shoppers using Fenwick, it is unlikely to be the primary cause of its closure.
She said: “It is so disappointing seeing an iconic brand disappearing from our High Street again but we have to acknowledge that the retail landscape has changed to due consumer buying behaviours.
“As consumers now, our priorities are all about convenience, value for money and retailers that are succeeding in the market don’t only have a physical store, they also have a very strong online presence.”
Fenwick’s has always been an ‘offline’ store, and while the group, which also has shops in London, Canterbury, Newcastle and York among others, has a website, it simply offers information rather than allowing visitors to buy items available instore.
Listen to Nas Harrison interviewed about the story on Radio Leicester here
This, Mrs Harrison argues, was a crucial reason for its shock closure.
She said: “Multi-channel has become essential, it has become an essential ingredient for survival in the world of retail. It's very important for retailers to have an effective ‘Omni-channel’ strategy which gives the customers the flexibility to interact with retailers using different devices at different touch points of the customer journey.”
Since the company announced the closure of the Leicester branch, many people have written on Twitter of their sadness, sharing memories of their experiences shopping there when younger. But many have also described the shop as ‘old-fashioned’.
Mrs Harrison said: “A shop now has to be more than a beautiful old building because the times have changed, our lifestyles have changed; people are more pushed for time.
“Other retailers nearby have every right to be concerned by this – footfall is lower. But we will have to wait to hear how the council plan to keep this area of the city alive.
“It is important that we can find ways to keep old shops going and it is equally important they themselves learn from instances like this about the importance of adapting to the times.”
Posted on Friday 6th January 2017