The British high street has taken something of a battering over the last few decades – with the nadir arriving during the Covid-19 pandemic. Facing stiff competition from online rivals, and reduced footfall thanks to anti-contagion concerns, it seemed that the days of the high street retailer might finally be winding down.
Despite this, there are still plenty of good reasons for a retailer to maintain a physical presence on the high street. Let’s take a look at how you might get the best from your high street store, and how you can make yours viable for the long-term.
How the High Street Has Changed
Despite repeated lockdowns, data in early 2022 revealed a rise of 1.3% in high street retailers. This might contrast unfavourably with the 13.4% bounce enjoyed by online retailers – but it remains a rise nonetheless. With that said, the fact that landlords are now able to evict businesses that fail to meet their rent might lead to an increase in insolvencies in 2022. Many of the survivors, in other words, are ‘zombie’ businesses which can only shamble onwards for so long.
Why Shops Need to Adapt to Survive
It’s clear that the high street can’t compete with online when it comes to price. Many customers will visit a physical store in order to assess the product before ultimately purchasing it online. Physical stores that fail to adapt to this new commercial environment are likely to perish. The most high-profile casualty in recent times has been Debenhams, which last year brought an end to two centuries of trade on British high streets.
What Shops Can Do To Encourage Footfall
Major high street chains might streamline their physical premises, using them as opportunities to showcase products rather than to close out sales. One thing that high street stores can offer that online retailers can’t is a sense of proximity and brand alignment. If your store serves the local community, and its values align with those of a loyal clientele, then you’ll stand a better chance of holding onto that custom.
You might have already noticed a shift in your local high street toward experiences rather than sales. This might mean bringing entertainment, food and drink into the store. It might be a simple matter of providing the right environment and vibe. After all, if the store is just a very small warehouse, there’s no real reason for anyone other than a delivery driver to visit it. That isn’t to say that you can’t acknowledge the fact that this is a place of business with the help of some industrial-style lighting and other aesthetic touches.
By providing the local community with something that can’t be found online, you’ll encourage them to step through the front door.