Have you walked down your local High Street recently?
Across many towns here in the UK we see empty shops. “For Sale and To Let” advertising boards appear from walls and stuck to the windows on many buildings.
During many periods of the day there are few people shopping in what were once thriving business areas. It feels like a shot from an old western movie of a ghost town and all that is needed is to complete the picture is tumbleweed to gently blow along the ground.
Why has the situation occurred and what can be done to bring life back into Britain’s shopping streets? We can of course blame the recession but this situation started before then. Many blame the out of town stores or new larger shopping centres all with easy access and car parking. The rise in Internet shopping can also be a factor in the demise of our High Streets.
However there is one party that should carry some blame and yet who claim to be the victims. The shopkeepers themselves! Shock horror! No way! Sadly it is true. Retailers in Britain have been set in their ways for centuries basically doing the same things. Old ways that once worked well no longer do.
The supermarkets started to change the way people shop and the ever growing range of products they offer has threatened many retailers. Retailers though have missed a trick! Rather than competing head on against these giants of the retail world they should have changed the way they do business and developed a niche market. (Please read my article “How Many Customers Do you Need?” which sheds more light on this.)
The retail giants can only sell a limited range of each type of product, very rarely do they have experts to talk to customers and they find it hard to develop a personal relationship with customers. All of these things a small business and retailer can do. Another point to consider too is that small shops can be made more pleasing to the eye and welcoming than the large warehouse like buildings of super stores. Smaller shops can create a more friendly and family like environment in which to shop which will draw in customers looking for a better shopping experience.
People will travel miles to visit a good shop and a shopkeeper can create a loyal following of people that will keep her in business and profitably so with just a little effort and application of good retailing principles for this modern era. I can recommend a good book by Seth Godin entitled Tribes
that will help you create and develop a following of customers.
It would be also wise for any retailer to seek advice from an expert in the retailing world that has been able to establish and make shops profitable. Read our Spotlight On Feature about such a person, Adrian Chase. With a few changes our High Streets can have the life put back into them but it is going to be the businesses in those streets that will bring the customers back. No one else can do it. With proper application the tumbleweed can be driven away and replaced by crowds of willing and eager shoppers.
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The Entrepreneur Club