In the current economic climate there are an overwhelming number of uncertainties plaguing our communities, most of which could be directly attributed to the dreaded B word. Brexit.
It would be a lie to say that Brexit has been the sole cause of the downfall of the British High street however. The growing trend of online shopping that appeals to a society driven by low prices and convenience cannot be overlooked. Now more than ever it is hard for local retailers to compete with global giants such as Amazon and ASOS.
Every news publication is releasing articles on “the death of the High street” which when taking a glance would be the fair conclusion. Just take the fact that the British Retail Consortium released in January of this year that 10 percent of all retail spaces remain vacant in the UK with many of the larger companies “restructuring” and cutting down their number of physical stores, for example New Look.
However are we seeing this trend begin to change? We have seen a rise in the number of people searching for the likes of “local produce” and “handcrafted goods” which has resulted in a movement of consumers supporting local business. So much so it has become a strong branding tactic used by businesses to push the idea of locality and “homegrown goods”
It could be said that we are not seeing the death of the High street, we are simply seeing a refocus. Yes, it's true, a large number of big chains are entering liquidation however the smaller independent chains are proving resilient. Communities are wanting to support their local businesses particularly if they are meeting a niche that cannot be found online.
The revival of the High street could be considered as a result of a social responsibility rather than purely materialistic however. Visa reported in early 2019 that the British High street has a huge impact on positivity within local communities, with 1 in 10 shoppers stating that physically visiting a shop makes them feel happier and that a good High street fills them with a sense of pride.
Not only this but a strong High street contributes heavily to a town’s economy. This is not only based on the footfall and conversion rates but the outside interest it attracts. A town with a buzzing retail centre will attract investment and draw in outside visitors. The perfect example of such a town would be Brighton which puts its shopping districts on its highlights when visiting the town, boasting its variety of “independent” and “unique” shops.
It's clear that there still is a place for the smaller retailers on the local High street, however they must also have a digital presence to remain competitive in the digital era.
Those businesses that are able to integrate a strong digital strategy, whether through an online store or for marketing efforts are those who survive. At AirPOS, part of our mission to support local business. Being a start up from Belfast we have always wanted to support not only our local retailers but also the smaller independents who we feel are helping to add to the growing diversity of products and services on the market.
Understandably there are still many retailers who are finding the move to the digital space more difficult, particularly those who have been in their industry for decades. At AirPOS we provide a high level of support so that the transition is as easy as possible and everyone can take their business to the next level.