The British high street is in flux, with reports of retailers under threat, our ever-growing dependence on digital, and the sense that brands are struggling to adjust to changing consumer needs. The future of the flagging House of Fraser remains uncertain, Marks & Spencer is experiencing an ongoing slump, and John Lewis has revealed that its profits for the first half of 2018 dropped by 99% – news following close on the reveal of a new visual identity by Pentagram. Debenhams is also attempting to slap a plaster over waning profits, unveiling a new brand identity by Mother featuring the not entirely successful tagline “do a bit of Debenhams”.
Some retailers are weathering the storm, including Fortnum & Mason, which posted double digit growth this year, and Selfridges, which celebrated record profit at the end of 2018. At the other end of the retail spectrum sales at Primark are also up, suggesting that luxury and budget brands are more immune to the high street’s challenges. So what’s causing the slow down? There’s the rising cost of rent, looming Brexit, increased competition, and of course the huge numbers of people that now browse and buy online. Blame is often focused around the rise in digital spending, but is that just an easy scapegoat?