High street sales suffer another blow in poor trading over Christmas 2012, as we know its down to a number of factors, the key one being online companies taking more business away from these ‘traditional’ stores, not just in probably better pricing (because they have now shop rents, lots of staff, heating etc) but lets face it, its just more convenient to shop at home on the Internet. Many companies such as Argos and PC World have still attracted good growth through hard economic times, mainly due to adaping there traditional ‘shop front’ business to more Internet centric models. Take Argos. It now has introduced ‘click and collect’ a sort of half-way house between online ordering and picking up from the store. With expansion of the Internet in the UK (and around the globe) increasing at a massive pace and together with the introduction of new, fast broadband to, not just city but rural areas like myself, there is no doubt the Internet shopping community will only expand even further.
The last week or so of bad weather in the UK, with heavy snow and ice will surely add further woes to the all ready troubled ‘high street’ retailers because people won’t bother to go out at all and simply ‘click online’, I’m sure the UK governments retail figures for the first quarter of 2013 for retail sales will make for grim reading still further. As someone in the Internet/Networking business, I use and my company produced products (routers) to enable consumers to connect to these so-called online retailers (Amazon, Ebay….), do I feel guilty? Nope. Business is all about evolution, it always has and always will be. I want to see the UK High Street carry on, but these businesses need to adapt and offer something than the Internet cannot offer to its prospective customers. Local councils are also to blame. Why? Parking restrictions, sky high parking fee tickets etc etc and of course huge rents for these retailers.
Here’s some ideals for a High Street retail revival :-
- Councils – reduce or take away parking tickets in high street areas
- Retailers – make your store unique! Too many High Streets look the same, no matter what part of the country you live in
- Retailers – Study the Internet. See what the latest trends are and what customers are buying and will buy, adjust your stock accordingly
- Retailers – entice your customer to visit the store. Make it inviting. Free coffee maybe?
- Retailers – Its not all about the lowest price. Maybe offer product bundles that work out cheaper and help move your stock
- Councils/Landlords – reduce High Street rent fees, especially for the small, independent stores
Finally, give small businesses a level playing field when it comes to paying UK business Tax. There is a distinct unfair advantage of the big retail chains of this country and across the pond (we all know who they are!) who pay little or next to nothing and are gradually eroding the small independents in this country.