Market Intelligence

High street vs. online: The bigger picture

24 May 2018|4 MIN READ

March and April 2018 saw the worst numbers for high street shopping since the depths of the 2009 recession.

Following this decline, we look once again at share of voice in Google to see who is making the correct business decisions to ensure their future success.

Who’s winning in fashion retail?

Based on our Marketing Intelligence reports, Next has risen to the top of the fashion retail pile with a 3.2% increase in SoV just between March and May.

This may be due to a previously leading ecommerce store seeing a major decline in this time, therefore leaving room for high street stores such as Next and Debenhams to expand.

We’ve taken a look at a recent snapshot of the entire retail fashion landscape (25k+ sites), based on the highest value searches.

Share of voice: menswear and womenswear combined

Womenswear share of voice (autumn / winter)

Looking at seasonal share of voice, we can see that sites providing higher margin products (such as Next and Debenhams), that are less frequently purchased, (e.g. coats) rank higher in the autumn / winter category.

This is an example of business getting it right at the right time - their performance is not an anomaly, Next’s strength at different times of the year suggest they have an astute digital strategy.

What do the winners have in common?

Of the top three sites overall, all have experienced an increase in online sales in the last few months.

They are all using search data to drive these sales - in knowing their consumer intent they are able to plan their online strategy.

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Crediting the warmer weather to their successes in March and April, Next saw an uplift of £40m in sales.

Next is a prominent retailer in Britain, Ireland and Europe with over 700 stores, but in the last two years they’ve suffered as the high street landscape changes from retail dominated to more entertainment and experience centric.

How have they managed to counter this in 2018? Whilst the weather may be an external reason, their website performance in both menswear and womenswear grew in this time, with an 18.1% increase in online sales.

The data shows that Next is making a success of its online pursuits whilst their high street stores sales continue to drop (by 4.8% in March/April).

But Next’s story is not solely happening on the high street. The bigger picture, which includes online, shows prosperity.


Boohoo reported a 97% increase in revenue from last year and after purchasing PrettyLittleThing Boohoo group have seen a 228% increase in sales.

Together and have double the share of voice online than any other womenswear retailer.

Bricks vs clicks

Although recent news stories tell of job cuts and store closures, the high street brands performing in the above charts reserve the right to be quietly confident, if their organic performance and online revenue is anything to go by.

High street stores are entering into a 'transitionary period' and the closing of stores can be seen as a precautionary measure to offset the lack of footfall on the high street.

If we look online we see a truer picture of their overall position in the market.

It's imperative for other high street retailers to maintain an online presence, and follow in the footsteps of Next, Debenhams and New Look, to offset any bricks and mortar demand decline.

It’s not the end of the road for high street retailers - it’s just the beginning

It seems that high street retailers may be catching up to ecommerce sites that had a head-start online.

Retailers are learning the value of organic search optimisation; high street retailers may be closing some physical shops, but their online stores are very much open for business.

As long as retailers take stock of the wider picture they’ll be able to see the ‘death’ of the high street as more of a re-balance towards digital, where we’ve seen there is opportunity to be had, if search data is used as business insight.


Want to see further insights on the Fashion retail industry? See our Fashion: retail report here. Or, get in touch to book a demo or commission a bespoke report.

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