Europe’s high streets could eventually be devoid of banks, travel agents and mobile phone shops as consumers turn to the web for research, according to ACNielsen.

A study by the analyst group found consumers used window-shopping less than the net when choosing their purchases, except when it came to clothing and accessories.

Web searching was the most popular way to pick holidays, MP3 players, mobiles and loans, although at least 50% of consumers preferred to browse shops for fashion items, jewellery and watches.

The survey, which covered 41 countries, reinforces changes taking place in high street retailing, along with firms’ advertising and marketing strategies, the group said.

It certainly poses a challenge for tomorrow’s retailers and mall operators,” said ACNielsen Europe CEO Frank Martell. He added:

The retailing experience of the future will need to be a much different proposition than it is today, if people no longer feel the need to visit a store to buy anything other than fashion and accessories, which are less likely to be researched online and more likely to be spontaneous in-store purchases.

The research will be especially good reading for online travel companies, with 59% of Europeans saying the internet is the place to go to plan holidays.

Martell added: “The High Street of the near future may well be devoid of the traditional travel agent, mobile phone store and high street bank, reserved entirely for fashion, jewellery, watches and other retailers selling merchandise that consumers need to see, feel and try on before they buy.