Topshop… without the shop?
Esmé Tilling explores the movement towards online shopping as popular high-street shops continue to shut
ASOS, the online fashion retailer, has recently acquired Topshop and other brands from the Arcadia empire as part of a £330m deal. This comes after Arcadia collapsed into administration last year. The event has been put down to the Covid-19 pandemic and the devastating effects it has had on sales. ASOS, however, does not intend to preserve Topshop as a high-street brand, instead moving all products on to their website. As a result, it is expected that around 70 stores with 2,500 employees to close.
In recent years, online shopping has been growing in popularity. Customers seem more attracted by its convenience, better prices, and increased variety of products. Retailers also benefit when being solely based online; they do not have to invest in both physical stores or staff, saving them a fortune.
However, this increasing loss of high-street stores is slowly eliminating shopping as a social and leisure activity. Shopping online does prevent encounters with unfavourable crowds and reduces the chaos of sales. However, people are also experiencing less social interaction, rarely engaging with their community, and spending too much time online. Browsing high-street shops can be inexpensive and fun, especially for younger people. For them there is no replacement for this outing, fuelling concerns for how young people will use their free time alternatively.
On top of this, the closure of physical stores will result in a change in shopping habits. Retailers will be more inclined to use cheaper fabrics to make their clothing as customers will no longer be able to feel the quality of products prior to their purchase. We could also see some changes to current trends as customers will be more inclined to buy brightly coloured pieces of clothing. Black, white, and neutral colours will fail to stand-out on a website as effectively as coloured clothing, decreasing their popularity. It is important to consider, though, that the vast array of products on online fashion websites is huge in comparison to that which would be displayed in a physical store. Customers are unlikely to browse the entire website, instead choosing to purchase what is bestselling or trending. Ultimately, this will limit independent thought and individuality.
The prospect of all fashion retailers moving exclusively online is becoming a reality.
In-person clothes shopping may become obsolete. Sooner than later, the only remembrance of these outings could be the empty shells of the stores that were once buzzing.
In some respects, this shift towards online shopping is a positive occurrence. It should give fashion retailers the opportunity to diversify their brands and prevents shopping from being an overwhelming or intimidating experience. However, it also proposes an end to many jobs and would result in a ghost town-like high street. One can only wonder how many other retailers will soon reveal to have been as similarly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as the Arcadia empire.