Home » The changing face of Britain’s High Street: How nail bars, hairdressers and takeaways have moved in while banks have shut down and clothes shops moved out of nation’s shopping streets since 2010

The changing face of Britain’s High Street: How nail bars, hairdressers and takeaways have moved in while banks have shut down and clothes shops moved out of nation’s shopping streets since 2010

Britain’s High Streets have changed drastically in the last 14 years with nail bars, hairdressers and takeaways replacing banks and clothes shops. 

A report by policy research agency Public First has revealed the transformation of the UK retail industry as people increasingly neglect town centres in favour of online shopping and banking. 

The number of banks has declined by over 60 per cent since 2010, while the number of clothing stores has dropped by about 3,600 in the same period. 

In their absence, hairdressers and beauty salons have taken over with nearly 2.5 new businesses opened every day over since 2010. 

Takeaways have also seen a notable rise with an average of 11.2 per 10,000 people in Manchester and 7.2 per 10,000 people in London

The drastic change in Britain’s high street make up is partly down to the shift to online shopping as well as a squeeze on people’s wallets during the cost of living crisis, according to Scott Corfe, director of data and modelling at Public First. 

Sedgley in the West Midlands, where a homeware store and a building society branch has been replaced with a hair salon and a mobile phone shop 

Sedgley before
Sedgley after

Further down Sedgley High Street, a hair extension specialist and a nail lounge stands in place of a shoe shop and dry cleaners 

In Sedgley, formerly a Staffordshire village and now a West Midlands metropolis situated between Wolverhampton and Dudley with over 30,000 residents, is typical.

It still has several pubs and much that other towns would envy like a cobblers, a music shop, a haberdashery, travel agents, a craft shop, an Iceland but in other ways the high street is very different from how it was back in 2010.

The Lloyds Bank has gone and remains empty and the Barclays Bank, a grand old building where its High Street meets Dudley Street will soon become an Indian Grill restaurant.

Sedgley resident Stewart Sutcliffe, 67, said: ‘I have seen it change big time. All the old trades have gone and we’re left with lots of barbers and nail bars and tanning salons.

‘We used to have a butchers but now we only have the part-time indoor market which has nothing really in it, no fruit and veg, no pet store.

‘Now we must have at least 10 barber shops and nail bars where young people pay £35 to have their nails done. It’s unbelievable.’

His friend, trader Dean Davies, 37, added: ‘There used to be a butchers where you could get a pork sandwich but now it’s all fast food joints.

‘It’s the old people I feel sorry for. We’ve still got a post office but retired people in Upper Gornal have to come all the way in here just to cash their pension.’

Pat Willis, 72, runs a guitar and music shop. She said: ‘I do miss the banks. At one stage there was a Barclays, a Lloyds and a Midlands here and now they’ve all gone. We’ve just got a Nationwide and a building society.

‘Now if I want to put my takings into the bank, I have to go to Kingswinford and I don’t drive so it is an inconvenience.

‘And when I want any change I have to rely on other shops rather than popping into the bank.

‘I’m on a Sedgley Past and Present Facebook group which has a lot of moaners really but one of the jokes that goes round is when a shop becomes empty it’ll probably soon become another Turkish barbers.

‘But as far as I can see they always have people in them.

‘I think the demographic has changed. This was an older place and now there are a lot more youngsters and families.

‘Maybe that explains all the nail bars and hair salons. We also have a lot of food places and coffee shops for a village.’

Baldwin Street in Bristol before
Baldwin street in Bristol now

Baldwin Street was once home to a branch of Nationwide, which is now an Italian gelato shop 

Baldwin Street in Bristol before
Baldwin Street in Bristol after

Baldwin Street in Bristol, where a former bank branch has been turned into a cafe

Hawarden after
Hawarden in Deeside, Wales, before

A village shop in Hawarden, Deeside that has been turned into a hairdresser 

Hawarden before
Hawarden after

A branch of Lloyds TSB in Hawarden is now Bank Beauty – a salon 

Teacher Samantha Holland, 42, was on her way to have her nails done.

She said: ‘I think things have to change with the times but we have to keep the old with the news. It is a symbiotic relationship.

‘There are far too many barbers but if they are all getting business, why not?

‘We used to have a couple of cobblers but they are being replaced by hair and nail places.

‘That said, it is nice to be able to access these things without going into Wolverhampton.

‘But then the Barclays has gone so when the mortgage is due to renew that will now mean going into Wolverhampton and probably having to take time off work. People like things local.’

On Dudley Street is one of several nail bars standing next to a hair extension studio. Ten years ago, this was a shoe shop and a dry cleaners. 

Diane Pullinger, 58, a nurse and lifelong Sedgley resident, said: ‘It has not really affected me. Everything I need is still here. I use the Tiptons, the hair shop, the chemist. I can’t say I’m really missing anything.

‘We’ve got an Asda and we’ll soon be getting an Aldi too.

‘The shoe shop that was here was very old fashioned and my local shop on the estate does dry cleaning now.

‘We come out and use the Real Ale pubs. It’s probably an improvement to be honest.’

Sedgley has several pubs, including the Clifton, a Wetherspoons housed in what used to be a cinema, and the Red Lion.

Landlord of the Red Lion, James Bull, 34,said: ‘We do have a ridiculous number of barber shops. There must be at least 10.

‘My guess is that we will lose the indoor market soon. It’s on its last legs and when Aldi opens I think that’ll be the end of it. The poor fruit and veg man won’t be able to compete.

‘I think it’s a shame. I find myself using a lot of shops on the high street. I’ve just been to the hardware store for stuff to hold up the flags and I use the café for breakfast and the post office as a bank.’

Sedgley in the West Midlands, where there are numerous Turkish barbers

Sedgley in the West Midlands, where there are numerous Turkish barbers 

Beauty stores and takeaway restaurants are also common along the High Street in Sedgley

Beauty stores and takeaway restaurants are also common along the High Street in Sedgley 

Hayley Walters, 36, out for a birthday drink with her family, said: ‘There used to be a lot more. You’d have a decent butchers and Firkins where they did fresh bread.

‘Now we have a Greggs but it’s not the same and there are no banks at all. I don’t use it a great deal. The market used to be good but it’s only open four days a week and it closes early.’

Tipton’s Building Society is now the Steel Woolf Barber Club and up on the High Street the West Brom Building Society has been replaced by a phone shop.

Sarah, 51, a mum of two, was off with her daughters to the tanning salon.

‘I don’t come to the high street much,’ she said, ‘except when I use the sunbed shop and go to Asda.

‘The hairdresser I used in town has now gone back to doing it from her home because she couldn’t afford the rent and rates. I really don’t know how so many barbers survive.

‘Years and years ago there was a proper butchers and grocers but Aldi is coming along now so that ship has truly sailed.’

Further West in Bristol, Baldwin Street is in the heart of the city and locals still remember it as a bustling commercial centre with banks, a market and thriving shops. 

Many of its buildings are listed and the grand facades can still be seen above the takeaways, nail bars and hair salons that have replaced traditional high street businesses.

Samantha Holland, 42, was on her way into Sedgley to get her nails done

Diane Pullinger, 58

Samantha Holland, 42, was on her way into Sedgley to get her nails done, while Diane Pullinger, 58, was happy with the state of the local High Street 

Landlord of the Red Lion, James Bull, 34,said: 'We do have a ridiculous number of barber shops. There must be at least 10'

Landlord of the Red Lion, James Bull, 34,said: ‘We do have a ridiculous number of barber shops. There must be at least 10’

Locals say Baldwin Street has lost its character – a victim of the online revolution where people do their banking at home and shop at the click of a button rather than browse the rails in Debenhams or John Lewis.

Recruitment manager Beth Thatcher, 33, said: ‘It’s just a sign of the times. I work two days a week from home and it’s 100 per cent easier to access banks when I’m not at my office in the city centre.

‘I used to bank with Halifax but they aren’t here any more so I’m with Monzo now.

‘It’s not going to go back to how it was, it’s so expensive for companies to have premises in the city and we’ve become an online generation with everything at our fingertips.

‘After work the street gets busy, there are people eating and drinking everywhere. People aren’t afraid to spend their money on food and drink.’

Bristol born NHS analyst Mark Dancox, 56, said: ‘A lot of the big stores like Woolworths and John Lewis have gone, the face of Bristol has changed.

‘I can remember when the Gaumont Cinema was here in Baldwin Street, that’s long gone. Bristol is not the place it used to be.’

Several takeaways can now be seen lining Baldwin Street in Bristol

Several takeaways can now be seen lining Baldwin Street in Bristol 

A Domino's pizza advertises for more moped riders and cyclists amid a boom in the number of takeaways

A Domino’s pizza advertises for more moped riders and cyclists amid a boom in the number of takeaways 

Tony Marco, 77, has run a traditional men’s barbers in the street for 24 years and fears he will be driven out by new businesses and Baldwin Street’s thriving night time economy.

The father-of-three said: ‘It used to be a great place for people to come to shop and do their banking. Now it’s rubbish. The car park has gone because people don’t come here like they used to.

‘There was a NatWest Bank up the road but that shut down and was an ice-cream shop for years but that’s gone too.

‘I will be the last of the Anglo-Italian barbers – in 10 years time they will all be Turkish.

‘The night time economy here is good, the restaurants and takeaways do well but the traditional flavour of the street has gone.’

Software consultant and new mum Christi Foster, 32, who lives in Bristol, said: ‘I don’t need a bank and things like a post office, I do a lot of things online.

‘For sure, I miss the feel of the High Street and I don’t like the fact that it’s disappearing. I try not to buy things online for that reason, but it’s difficult.’

Business development manager Richard Whittington, 60, a married father-of-two, said: ‘We’ve lost the High Street banks and it’s a major problem to get hold of anyone at a bank these days. Not everyone wants to do online banking, it’s a shame.

‘We’ve lost a lot of big department stores, Debenhams and John Lewis. The whole character of areas like Baldwin Street have changed and become a bit run down.’

Tony Marco, 77, has run a traditional men's barbers in the street for 24 years and fears he will be driven out by new businesses and Baldwin Street's thriving night time economy

Recruitment manager Beth Thatcher, 33, said Britain's changing high streets were 'just a sign of the times'

Tony Marco, 77, (left) has run a traditional men’s barbers in the street for 24 years. Recruitment manager Beth Thatcher, 33, said Britain’s changing high streets were ‘just a sign of the times

Software consultant and new mum Christi Foster, 32, who lives in Bristol, said doesn't often use the high street and does 'a lot of things online'

Bristol born NHS analyst Mark Dancox, 56, has noticed that 'the face of Bristol has changed'

Software consultant and new mum Christi Foster, 32, who lives in Bristol, said doesn’t often use the high street and does ‘a lot of things online’. Pictured right is NHS analyst Mark Dancox