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Leading investor says high street is dying

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The days of the traditional shop may be numbered, says one of the UK’s largest property owners.

Physical high street stores are likely to be wiped out by the rise of internet shopping, said Aviva Investors, which owns around £20bn of property in the UK, including a number of shopping centres.

The group said that shops would have to offer an enjoyable, personalised experience in order to survive. Shopping centres will also have to become ‘destinations’ in their own right to compete. This is a marked change from the commoditised high street of recent years.

Aviva Investors is reducing its exposure to the UK in its property portfolios. It has sold 110 properties, while buying only six new ones.

Aviva Investors says the market will increasingly polarise into winners and losers. Vulnerable companies are already struggling. The owners of New Look, Brait Capital, are in talks to restructure the group’s £1.2bn debt burden as the group tries to secure its future after a profits slump in the three months to June. The high street is likely to be a victim of rising inflation – as prices for food and other essentials rise, consumers have less money to spend on discretionary items.

That said, there are some success stories. Fashion retailer Matalan posted a jump in sales today, bucking the trend of weakness on the high street.

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