From May 2nd 2018, Chinese owned department store House of Fraser, announced that they will be closing a large number of it’s stores as an attempt to save money, putting at least 6,000 jobs at risk. As a consumer, this leads us to question what is happening to British high streets, as many of our classic stores struggle to survive.

 

Social media and shopping

Looking at House of Fraser’s social media, it is clear that their content has not adapted to current times. An example of this is evident on their Instagram platform where they only have 167k followers. It may sound like a lot, however, for a department store with chains all over Britain, it is surprisingly a very small figure.

In comparison, other stores such as Primark with 5.7m followers and H&M with 25.5m followers on Instagram are increasing their high street presence. This, in part is due to their online interactions with their customers. Primark has used features, such as Instagram live and Insta stories to create a buzz around pre-product launches and trend alerts. Interestingly, they also collaborate with and encourage social media Influencers to participate and film their press day events. By doing so, they are able to gain insight into what trends are in demand, allowing them to thrive in the retail industry.

The use of social media in this digital era appears to have a growing importance on influencing the ways in which consumers are now choosing to shop. With this severely lacking in the case of House of Fraser’s, they have not been appealing to the consumers and therefore, people are opting to shop elsewhere. Additionally, many of the brands that are available for purchase at House of Fraser are available to buy from other stores, usually at a discount.

Upon analysis, it is clear that House of Fraser seems to be confused with the direction they want to take in order to gain consumers. They do not appear to clearly market a particular lifestyle that is appealing to the average department store clientele. For example, Selfridges is a department store located in 3 major cities in Britain. Yes, there are far less Selfridges stores than House of Fraser, however they appeal to the atmosphere of the city they are in. They market themselves by targeting the  social resale aspect of shopping. On entering Selfridges, it is made clear to the customer what is available to them such as, the sale of quality food and beverage as well as the purchasing of exclusive goods in an atmosphere that exudes luxury.

Unfortunately, House of Fraser has failed to distinguish themselves from their rivals and has inevitably led to their decline. With announced closure of their flagship Oxford Street store, it leads us to question the future of similar functioning departments stores nearby, Debenhams and John Lewis. Both stores lack progressive and innovative digital content with Debenhams having 183k followers and John Lewis with only 335k followers. To stop more department stores from closing down, companies need to take charge of their digital creation, as well as their product management and adapt to the growing and ever-changing demands of the modern day customer.