SME retailers on the UK high street are missing out on billions of additional revenue by not having an online presence, according to a new report.

The Digital High Street Report 2020 – an independent study initiated by the Government and the Future High Streets Forum – revealed that many local businesses are not cashing in on the increasingly digital savvy shoppers by having a strong online presence. In fact, many shops don’t even have a basic website set up.

The Government has already been helping small businesses and not-for-profits to get digital by supporting initiatives such as the Do More Online campaign offering free advice on subjects such as using social media, setting up a website and opening an online shop. But this report reveals that much more work is needed.

Recommendations for helping small retailers join the digital age

The Digital High Streets Advisory Board that conducted the independent study has recommended that the Government sets a target to eliminate the gap in basic digital skills for small businesses, charities and individuals by 2020.

Besides investing in improving infrastructure and connectivity in UK town and city centres, it was advised that a High Street Digital Laboratory should be established, giving shop owners access to dedicated digital skills training and ready-to-use digital tools.

John Walden, Chief Executive of Home Retail Group and Chairman of the Digital High Streets Advisory Board, said:

“The digital revolution is arguably the most disruptive factor affecting our communities, but its effects are not often considered central to high street revitalisation.

“Many members of UK town centres are struggling to keep up with consumers in terms of their digital capabilities, and given the pace of digital growth many towns lack sufficient infrastructure and basic digital skills.

“I believe that this business-oriented board has provided recommendations that, taken together, can restore our high streets to vibrancy in a digital future, into 2020 and beyond.”