Posted: 05/06/2019

“Why is getting your haircut or having a facial on such an up? Simple: you can’t get it online.”

View from HQ

YOU KNOW YOU ARE a grown-up when all you can do in your local pub is talk about property, the mortgage that you need to buy that property, and discuss in depth the demise of your local shops. A middle-class cliché and a sitcom writer’s bread and butter.

This mental image of bearded young adults with craft beer and extreme gin was blown apart as I read the Local Data Company’s Retail and Leisure Market Analysis 2018. Its key findings identified that banks had overtaken pubs to take the top spot as the fastest declining category. Estate agents were in the top 20 fastest growers in 2014. Last year they were the third fastest decliner.

Our ‘top’ (but really bottom) three are therefore banks, pubs and estate agents. Which means mortgages, beer (or gin) and houses. What will we talk about in our 40-something huddles if they all vanish?

It’s always hard to find ‘delis’ in these reports. That is, of course, my go-to stat. There’s a section on Niche Net Openings and so I flick to this. Vegan restaurants are up by 16 units, Jamaican restaurants up six and cheese shops also up six. No mention of delis, but I took heart that cheese shops showed a positive, when most of the report reinforced the fact that we all know: the high street is in a little bit of trading poo. 

Those that know me know that my pint of craft ale is definitely half full. So I scoured the 34-page document for some food retail positives. It certainly wasn’t that Aldi was the fastest growing retail brand in 2018 or that Greggs was next. Bit more love for third place Cake Box. Egg-free cakes. Clever – appealing to the vegetarian wave.

Perhaps there are more reasons to be happy in the Top 10 rising categories? What’s first? Barbers, up 813 units. Obvious when you know, isn’t it? Next comes beauty salons, up by 495 and then cafés & tearooms, with net openings of +214. That’s vaguely in our world.  

But why is getting your haircut or having a facial on such an up? Simple: you can’t get it online. 

And here’s the positive. Selling wonderful food is possible online, but it is difficult. There’s no tasting, there’s no one-to-one advice and there’s no real sense of discovery.  

Get your offer right, open a café section (next to a barber) and you’ll get that middle-class huddle discussing plummeting property prices in your deli because the pub has closed.

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