When Toys R Us and Maplin – two of the UK’s best‑known retailers – collapsed on the same day, it painted a pretty bleak picture for the high street.

Add to that the closure of another 27 Thomas Cook stores, and it was no surprise the bricks and mortar doom‑mongers were out in force.

But this week, we report on a whole range of travel agents investing in the high street, either opening new branches, relocating to bigger premises or renovating interiors.

In fact, look at Twitter and it seems there’s a new agency opening every week – and even businesses based on more modern channels are choosing to move into the high street.

Deloitte’s Retail Trends 2018 report backs that up, highlighting that consumer brands “all want a closer connection with their customers”.

It even warns there will be “more competition for the best locations and the best people as companies look to develop their presence on the high street”.

And it suggests that shops need to be “reimagined” so they are places of experience and not just transaction – advocating use of augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and visual search to engage and inspire customers in an “ever-increasing ‘try before you buy’ world”.
Deloitte says if they do that, high street shops will have a strong future.

And if they create brand authenticity and sustainability – something that is becoming increasingly important in retail as consumers want to associate with brands that have a sense of purpose and represent their views, beliefs and values – then they will truly be on to a winner.

Comment from Travel Weekly, March 21 edition