Nothing stands still for long on the high street, but the British Retail Consortium's prediction that 900,000 jobs will disappear in the next decade is worrying. Costs will rise with the introduction of the Living Wage - and that impacts staffing costs and therefore jobs.
But the high street is also in trouble because of the way in which we now shop - from our desks and homes, and often in the evenings when the online stores are always stocked and open.
Online shopping is here to stay, so what can retailers do to improve the channel and potentially protect jobs? They could make the online shopping experience more personal, perhaps.
Shopping online still lacks that personal, in-store touch. And retailers are constantly battling with high levels of cart abandonment, issues with returns, low conversion rates and lower average order values than in store.
One significant difference between physical stores and online stores is people - or rather, the lack of people. Staff to help you find what you're looking for, suggest accessories to go with your purchase, guide you through checkout and delivery options and answer questions about returns.
That's all changing and has been for some time. Live Help is available on many retail sites and a growing number of retailers including DFS, bathstore, schuh, Goldsmiths and Wickes are offering real-time video assistance from their sites. That's real people you can see and talk to and who can serve you in much the same way as you'd be served in store. And retailers are seeing uplifts in average order values, upsell opportunities and conversion rates that are as high as store conversions in some cases.
Store staff are personable, skilled communicators with exactly the right skills to work in online customer service. Nothing's likely to reverse the fortunes of the high street, but re-deploying staff away from stores and into online customer service positions could be one way to safeguard jobs and at the same time drive more business from the online channel.
One of the UK's largest employers, the retail sector, is facing the loss of up to 900,000 jobs and the closure of thousands of shops in the next decade. A British Retail Consortium report says rising costs due to the National Living Wage and the new apprenticeship levy could speed up job cuts. Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and head of the John Lewis Partnership, said that although retailers supported the introduction of higher pay, there would be an effect on employment. Sir Charlie said that many shops would also close, as increasing costs and changes in the way millions of consumers shop take hold.