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High Street Index: The High Streets Surviving The Online Shopping Boom

Published on Nov 10, 2022
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The boom in online shopping, accelerated by the pandemic, has spelt disaster for many of Britain's favourite high street retailers. Many well-known department stores have permanently shut their doors in towns and cities across the country, while others are now struggling to attract the footfall they once had. 

But which towns and cities are thriving in the face of online shopping? 

At Hey Discount we’ve looked at Google searches for in-person shopping, how these searches have changed over time and the number of articles on department stores closing down in each location to find out. We’ve also taken a look at the best shopping centres around the country, according to shoppers themselves.  


This city in Sommerset has the most resilient high street, with a high street score of 7.36 out of 10. Thanks to a booming tourist industry, high-street shops in Bath are flourishing; and the city ranks in the top 10 for shopping searches over the last 12 months. Bath also takes the top spot thanks to its very small change in search volume, placing in the top five for the factor.

Harrogate, Exeter

Two cities share second place, both with a high street score of 7.24 out of 10. Harrogate has one of the biggest increases in demand for high street shops, ranking second for the factor.  

Exeter joins Harrogate in second place thanks to it having one of the smallest decreases in search volume, placing in the top five for the factor despite its recent searches declining. 


Rounding off the top three is Skipton. The North-Yorkshire town has the lowest number of articles on department stores closing in the town, and the highest increase in search volume since 2018 too. However, Skipton is let down by the number of shopping searches, ranking last for the factor only taking it to third place.


Home to the world-famous department stores Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason and one of the largest shopping centres in Europe, high streets in London cater to a diverse array of shoppers. So it’s no surprise that the capital takes the top spot for the most in-demand high street in our index. Over the last 12 months, searches for shopping in London have reached more than 200,000! 


Manchester is up next with just under 75,000 searches for high-street shopping in the city over the last 12 months. The city also plays home to the Trafford Centre with over 30 restaurants in its food court, and independent shops and boutiques located in the Northern Quarter too.    


From luxury brands to high-street shops, Edinburgh’s high streets have a variety of retailers to suit every shopper's budget and tastes. The city’s latest offering is St James Quarter, a four-story shopping centre housing more than 40 shops which opened last year.


York takes the top spot as the location with the most articles written about its shops closing. But despite several large department stores closing down in the city and leaving large gaps in its retail spaces, York’s high street has bounced back, filling these vacant stores with new retailers and even a luxury department store. 


Up next is London with the capital having 27,000 articles written about department store closures. The city, home to world-famous shopping destinations, has faced closures from many flagship department store locations, including House of Fraser and John Lewis.  


Taking third place is Manchester with 24,600 articles written on the closure of its department stores. Like many other towns and cities across the UK, Manchester was home to Debenhams before the retail giant went into administration and began trading solely online, leaving a hole in its high street.


The Yorkshire town of Skipton has seen the biggest increase in interest in its high street, with searches increasing by nearly 46% since 2018. The town hosts an outdoor market which takes place four days a week and has its own shipping centre too, as well as a high street packed with plenty of unique boutiques.   


The second Yorkshire town on our list, Harrogate is up next with just over a 34% increase in in-person shopping searches. The historic spa town has an eclectic range of independent shops lining Beulah Street and more high-street classics closer to its centre.


Nestled on the banks of the River Thames, Richmond takes third place for its modest search increase of 7.25% when it comes to interest in in-person shopping. The Surrey town steeped in history has many specialist shops, notably antique shops and secondhand booksellers alongside more modern amenities.


Westfield London, Bluewater, Liverpool One, St. David's

Four shopping centres share the top spot when it comes to shopper reviews, all scoring an average of 4.5 out of 5. Three of these shopping centres are in the centre of their home cities giving easy access to shoppers, however Bluewater is the odd one out, lying on the M25 outside Dartford.   

8 Shopping centres, including, Westfield Stratford City, Trafford Centre and Bullring Estate 

Shopping centres are often the focal point of communities, and now offer much more than just shopping, like food courts, entertainment and even residential areas too, so high reviews are a good indicator of what shoppers think of the area as a whole. Eight shopping centres, including Westfield Stratford City, The Trafford Centre and The Bullring Estate share a score of 4.4 out of five according to shoppers. 

18 shopping centres, including St. James Quarter, Brent Cross and Manchester Arndale

Shopping centres are ideal for shoppers as they offer everything a person might need under one roof, with the highest-regarded malls offering a huge variety of shops and products as well as entertainment spaces and amenities to appeal to every customer. A whopping 18 shopping centres such as St James Quarter, Brent Cross and Manchester Arndale share third place, all scoring an average of 4.3 out of five! 


Beginning with a list of cities, we analysed each one on the following factors. We then gave each city a normalised score out of ten for each of the factors, before taking an average across each of these scores to reach our final overall score out of ten.

The most in-demand high streets: the total number of Google searches for “shopping in [city]” from October 2021 to September 2022 according to Google ads Keyword Planner. 

The least publicised high street closures: the total number of articles for “[city] department store closed” according to Google’s News tab. 

The high streets experiencing the biggest revival: the percentage change in Google search volume between 2018 and 2022 according to Google ads Keyword Planner.

The UK’s best shopping centres: the average user rating for each shopping centre according to Google reviews.  


Charlotte Marshall

Lead Editor

Being a full-time content writer and part-time shopaholic, globe-trotter and avid lover of all things food (and wine)...I love researching the best money-saving hacks so that I can help fuel my own passions, and yours!


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