FEATURE: Retail or resale? Vintage stores on the up whilst high street retailers face decline

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IT was recently reported that high street retailers have begun to close around 15 stores a day due to a national decline in sales, while vintage stores thrive.

The news came from a report, carried out in October, which highlights the pressure on the retail sector. Additionally, after Black Friday and Cyber Monday ended with surprising numbers, the British Retail Consortium reported that 1 in 4 pounds were spent online, a record high, whilst deals will have lured would – be shoppers away from the high street in certain of bargains elsewhere.

Looking at the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), retail inflation rose by 0.9% in October 2016 – slightly lower compared to the 1.0% rise in the year to September, but still much higher than the rates seen in 2014. With inflation set to increase to 2.7%, 1.7% more than the its previous year, these figures have had in – store high street retailers worried as consumers are turning towards second – hand shops to find the top deals and using online formats to search otherwise.

Ruby Montey, 20, an avid ‘thrift shopper’, said:

“I travelled over here from Australia and whilst I have a job, I have to budget my money well. Shopping on the high street is impossible nowadays, unless you find a good sale, so I usually just head to the Northern Quarter where just about everything in my wardrobe is from.”

Stating that there are ‘hundreds of hidden deals’ in second hand stores around Manchester, I chose to ask around the city’s high street to hear from other customers.

Second - hand shop, photo via Flickr

Second – hand shop, photo via Flickr

Rebecca, 22, said: “I tend to shop in Zara or Topshop, when I can afford it, but definitely struggle to. It’s hard to find a good bargain on the high street, but once you get the hang of it you can manage it on the cheap.

“James, 22, said: “I’ll only really buy shoes from Size, but my wardrobe is mostly vintage. Manchester can be an expensive city to live in, so I started shopping second hand when I moved here in 2014 and now I’m used to finding the right deals for low prices.”

Whilst the general demographic for second – hand shoppers ranges from 20 – 25 (students), Quays News visited Affleck’s Palace and spoke to one of it’s silver jewellers who said:

“Second – hand stores always pulled in the older generation who had a little edge about them. Old school rockers, you’d say. But nowadays it’s cool for younger adults to dive into the vintage bargains, not just because it’s more affordable, but the pieces are one of a kind.”

She continued: “It’s always been a steady business here, you have to remember that vintage will never go out of fashion – that’s the point. High street retailers are constantly trying to go with particular trends, but we’re just reselling some of the finest products of years gone by… To my knowledge, there are no worries about second – hand stores facing any sort of decline.”

In a report from the Centre for Retail Research, figures showed that 27 retailers had fallen this year, with 1,395 stores affected, as well as just over 26,000 employees.

Some find that shopping vintage even offers a better experience due to the ‘not knowing what you’ll find’ aspect to it, as opposed to approaching the same products on the high street, just 5 times the price. Especially at the countless vintage fairs, which can be found nearly every weekend, prominently Judy’s Vintage Fair, carried out every month on different dates around the UK. It can also be said that the high street takes vintage inspiration, with shops such as Urban Outfitters branching out with their ‘Urban Renewal‘ range that resells replenished second – hand items but for a higher price.

Urban Outfitters, photo via Flickr

The only concern now for the high street is the introduction to online second – hand selling, particularly through websites such as ASOS’s partner online store, ASOS Marketplace. The site is home to some of the best quality vintage boutiques from around the world, and gives consumers a chance themselves to sell off old items. Other popular sites to follow suit are Depop and Etsy, with many others on the side growing via technological change.

So as high – street retailers already compete with much – loved brands around the UK, the real concern may just come out of nowhere as second – hand bargain hunting is only increasing in popularity with the added advantage of its online platform beginning to take charge.

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