Five Ways to Revitalise Our High Streets
High streets throughout the UK are suffering from shops closing and businesses failing. The Local Data Company has carried out research revealing that fourteen shops closed every day in the first six months of the year. Although this seems a very high rate of closure, it is the lowest in the past seven years.
We need to do more to prevent our town centres from declining any more, and the following suggestions from experts such as Mary Portas may provide the solution.
Town Centres as Destinations
Rather than marketing a town in the traditional way, changing how it is perceived can make a real difference. For example, Blackburn, the winner of winners in the Great British High Street Awards held last year, has an innovative art installation planned in place of the normal switch-on of Christmas lights. The event includes aerial performances, a lantern parade and a street feast.
More Than Shops
Many empty shops throughout the UK are now being used for different purposes, such as cocktail bars, coffee shops and ice cream parlours, where people can meet and socialise. All it takes is some specialist equipment such as refrigerated display counters that are widely available from companies like www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/. A disused shop can then become a place that is much better adapted for how people choose to live today.
Digital High Streets
Rather than viewing the internet as a threat, Lindsay King of Save The High Street suggests that online and offline should merge. Even small retailers should offer e-commerce solutions so that customers can see their products before visiting the store or buy them online. Many new apps have been developed to help retailers to digitize their shops.
According to The Guardian, Amazon plans to open a pop-up Christmas store in the centre of London.
New Experiences In-Store
Offering multiple experiences under one roof can attract people into high street stores. Some retailers have installed selfie booths, live DJ slots and, in one case, a virtual reality water slide in an effort to give their customers different experiences. Hosting events is another way of bringing people in.
Reduced Business Costs
Mary Portas suggests that independent businesses and entrepreneurs should be offered discounts on business rates to help them survive. Other ideas are free parking and the refusal of out-of-town planning applications.