About a year ago, we highlighted a ranking of the healthiest high streets in the UK that included Teddington (at number eight). The ranking was based on businesses that encourage healthy or unhealthy living, and so truly was about which high streets most benefit people’s lives. It would be fair enough though to interpret it also as a look at some of the best high streets around the nation.
Thinking of things that way, it’s also fair to say that like examples are getting fewer and far between. Much has been written over the course of this decade about the potential demise of the traditional high street. In some cases, this is something observable, and in others, it’s more of a grim prophecy based on vague factors like expanding internet retail opportunities. Regardless of the validity of the arguments though, or how they apply to any particular town or neighborhood, this should at least lead us to wonder how the traditional high street might evolve in order to avoid a decline in the near future.
This is all speculative, but considering these broad ideas, we came up with some changes and innovations one might expect to see among high street offerings, both in Teddington and elsewhere.
An Amazon Presence
We often consider Amazon the enemy of retail. But it’s not necessarily in the online company’s interests to completely derail in-person retail, so much as to take over as many shopping outlets as it can. Accordingly, we read this past summer about Amazon opening pop-up shops in UK town centers, potentially as a means of probing interest. It’s not a concrete prediction, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see some more permanent Amazon stores opening on local high streets over the course of the next few years.
On both sides of the Atlantic, we’re beginning to see a subtle rise in meaderies. Serving as hybrids, almost, between whiskey bars and breweries, these establishments appear to be fairly popular with young people looking for a new but classy experience. Brooklyn, New York has established itself as a new-age meadery hot spot, but one or two of them have opened recently in London as well. Intimate, high-end meaderies between storefronts may just become welcome additions to our high streets.
VR Gaming Facilities
Public VR gaming houses – called VRcades, sometimes – are becoming popular around the world. Typically they’re used to allow people to experiment with VR equipment they aren’t confident buying for themselves just yet. They could be particularly useful in the UK though given growing chatter about VR’s potential intersection with casino gaming specifically. The UK has a robust online casino industry featuring everything from poker tournaments to PayPal-deposit slot sites; it also has one of the more successful livecasino industries left in the world. It won’t be a surprise, therefore, for the UK to lead innovation in this space and introduce some of the first in-person facilities with real-money VR gaming experiences – potentially on popular high streets.
Meat Alternative Shops
There actually seems to be growing debate about how healthy prominent meat alternatives really are. To be clear, we aren’t simply talking about vegetarian or vegan dining, but rather some of the faux-meat options that have emerged in just the last year or two. The argument that consuming less meat will help to save our planet (as well as that meat-heavy diets just aren’t sustainable with population growth) has led to some degree of urgency to establish these alternatives though. And regardless of their health benefits, some of them are in fact getting popular. So in this instance, we’re essentially predicting a new culinary trend that could well result in new high street casual dining options.
It’s worthwhile to mention at least one specific, existing store as well – so why not Superdry? This UK-based fashion retailer was labeled as one of the fastest-growing storesof its time last year, and already has a number of locations around the London area. So this might not be a particularly bold prediction, but there’s some logic to the idea that as the retail industry grows ever more competitive, a surging store like Superdry could build up new locations in towns around the country.