How to survive the high street

Richard MollerDirector Custom Research
February 01, 2019, 11:27 AM GMT+0

Barely a day goes by without another misfortune befalling the high street: store closures, job losses, bankruptcies. YouGov’s latest white paper “Is there still hope for the high street?” delves into some of the data and trends behind the downturn.

However, at the same time as some retailers – particularly department stores – are in turmoil, others are bucking the trend. Not only are some brands increasing profits, but they are also growing their customer base and even opening new stores.

What can the data tell us about some of these brands’ continued success against the odds?


Primark is one of few high street brands making a profit. Earlier this month it announced total sales had risen by 1% following a successful Christmas trading period. And while other retailers are closing stores, Primark intends to open more in 2019 including its largest ever in Birmingham.

But what is drawing customers to the budget brand? One factor could be the consistent value for money if offers. Primark’s BrandIndex value score (measuring whether a brand offers good or poor value for money) has risen by 11 points (from +15 to +26) since 2014.


Despite a fall in profits, Next is doing well in terms of sales (particularly online) and its BrandIndex value for money score increased from +12 t0 +14 over the past four years. Its recommend and purchase intent scores have also risen over the same period (both by three points).

This growth is mainly driven by Gen X: a group more likely to have young children and to say their main motivations when choosing where to shop are cheap prices and good quality products.

Next’s partnership with Emma Willis also looks to be a savvy decision. According to YouGov Ratings data, more than half of Gen Xers have a positive opinion of the TV presenter.

River Island

Like Next, River Island has been a fixture of the British high street for decades. However, it has revived its appeal among younger shoppers with progressive anti-stereotyping campaigns such as “Labels are for clothes”.

At a time when young shoppers have more choice than ever in terms of fashion brands, River Island’s value score rose by four points over the past year among 18-34 year olds.


Superdrug’s 2018 partnership with ITV’s Love Island was a hit with young people leading to a growth in profits as well as increased “brand warmth”.

The data also shows that among 18-34 year olds, Superdrug is one of the most improved retailers in terms of perception of quality, with a rise of three points since 2018.

For more in-depth analysis on the state of the high street download the full white paper here.