As Comet heads towards administration, is the traditional UK high street on the ropes? 

YES

Dan Wagner

The recent problems plaguing Comet have stemmed from the fact that it considered the internet to be a threat. As a result, it was sluggish in developing adequate online and mobile commerce strategies, and lost its position in the highly competitive consumer electronics market. Successive managements failed to grasp the importance of this structural shift to online consumption by consumers. Regardless of size, companies can no longer merely pay lip service to online and mobile commerce, particularly because a greater number of transactions are taking place through these channels. And with the growth in popularity of tablet devices, this will become increasingly more common. Comet’s move towards administration is sad news for Britain’s high streets. But a keener eye for online shopping would have helped Comet to maintain its broader position in the marketplace.

Dan Wagner is chief executive and chairman of mPowa.

NO

Sally Moses

When Comet Battery Stores launched in 1933, shopping was a functional affair, simply about getting access to everything required to sustain body and home. But the retail arena has changed, and we can’t blame the internet exclusively for this. Consumer demand for interactive and sociable experiences is growing: the act of shopping has become the art of shopping and the high street offers the perfect environment for this. Shops that are surviving are thriving – we need only look towards the Farmers Markets popping up across the country to see that people respond well to high street experiences that engage customers. The internet will never provide this in the same way. Retailers need to find creative ways to cater for our need for personal interaction, real existence, and self-validation: providing shared experiences and a sense of community that we identify with and want to go back to again and again.

Sally Moses is a consultant at The Gild.