Smartphones are threatening the high street

Camera maker Jessops, which collapsed into administration in the same week as HMV and Blockbuster in January, faced a battle with smartphones such as Apple's iPhone as its camera became capable of competing with compact digital cameras.

Apple's iPhone 5 has an 8-megapixel iSight camera that can also capture panorama images up to 28 megapixels and 1080p HD video. This combined with the huge variety of iOS photography and video apps, plus the ability to instantly share photos via Twitter, Facebook and email, has made the iPhone the most popular camera in the world, according to Apple.

In November, TIME Magazine used a photograph captured by an iPhone 4S as its cover image, and a photojournalist from the Guardian captured moments from the London 2012 Olympics on his iPhone 4S, proving that even professionals are accepting smartphone photography. 

New retail methods winning high street battle

Another feature in the smartphone that is threatening the high street is the ability to scan barcodes while in shops to find out whether there is a cheaper place to buy a product online. This process, commonly referred to as 'showrooming', is becoming more and more popular, with 25 per cent of consumers admitting to using a barcode scanner for this purpose while out in shops in the run up to Christmas, according to The Telegraph.

Online shops such as Amazon have apps with built in barcode scanners to enable potential buyers to pick up a DVD in HMV, for example, and instantly find out how much it would set them back from Amazon in comparison to the price tag it has in the shop. More often than not, Amazon will come up cheaper.

Of the 25 per cent of consumers in the survey conducted by FoolProof, four out of ten said that 'showrooming' resulted in them making their purchases elsewhere. One in five said that they only visited the store to check out a product that they planned to buy online later.

 Retailers have also seen a big increase in the time spent in their mobile shopping apps, according to mobile analytics firm Flurry.

Research suggests that consumers spent six times as much time using retailer shopping apps in December 2012 compared to the same period of 2011.

The internet is threatening the high street

All this, and we haven't even started talking about ordinary online shopping yet, which is arguably the biggest factor contributing to the decline of the high street. This, combined with the ease of use of smartphones and tablets, means customers are finding it more convenient, and often cheaper, to shop online.

According to the latest British Retail Consortium Online Retail Monitor, online retail searches from tablets have grown by 238 per cent and from smartphones 76 per cent year on year, with searches hitting a peak on Boxing Day, hinting that the popularity of mobile devices means customers can quickly and easily get access to the internet and online shopping from wherever they are.

"This strong growth shows how online retail really came of age this Christmas," said Helen Dickinson, Director General at the British Retail Consortium. "It's playing an increasingly significant role at every stage of the customer journey, especially when researching items and comparing prices both at home and on the move. Retailers continue to invest in their online offer, and more and more of us are reaping the resulting benefits of more flexible delivery options, user friendly websites and improved accessibility and security."

It's not just UK residents that are shopping online instead of taking to the high street. "Searches from overseas to UK retailers' sites also had a strong showing, up by 25 per cent on the fourth quarter of 2011," said Dickenson.

A report by Accenture Consultants entitled Understanding The Changing Consumer says: “Consumers are increasingly ‘connected’ - often online, interacting with companies and other consumers to research and purchase products, share advice, and praise or criticize a business. Nearly three-quarters of the consumers surveyed said they use the internet to research or purchase products or services more than they did three years ago. Consumers are also increasingly using social media as a tool in the purchasing process.”

However, it can be difficult for retailers to bring this 'connected' consumer to the high street.

Other factors are threatening the high street

Ex-Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy has described high street shops as "medieval" during an interview with BBC Radio 4 this month. He believes that customers are choosing to shop at bigger supermarkets rather than smaller shops.

And with supermarkets now stocking technology, DVDs, CDs, books, games and more, customers are able to purchase their grocery shopping at the same time as picking up gifts and gadgets.

Supermarkets are even able to open dark stores which are only open to staff who will do your shopping for you after you've ordered it online.

Piracy and crime could also be contributing to the high street's decline, with the cost of retail crime rising to £1.6 billion, according to BRC. This represents an increase of 15.6 per cent in a year.

Page 1: Digital downloads are killing physical copies

Page 2: Smartphones, new methods, the internet

Page 3: What can retailers learn from Apple?

Page 4: The future of the high street