The next ten years will be a transformative time for our high streets. Shops will be the theatres where brands develop their closest relationships with customers. Technological advances will be mind-boggling and hard to predict, but will help reinvigorate our high streets.
Shops will become more sociable places. Every brand will need ro rethink ‘sociability’ into its business model. Being community-based and community-relevant will be key.
Ibrahim Ibrahim, MD, Portland
There has been concern about the decline of the local and independent offer of the high street for nearly a decade. The impact has been devastatingly apparent for the past two years, where we have seen the vacancy rate doubling and an accelerated shift towards the big-box retailers than can keep their overheads low.
The generalists that can compete on price have seen a need to enhance the experience of shopping and add additional attractions and value. The Apple Genius bar and the rise of the Geek Squad are good examples of things to come.
It has always been interesting to see how the high street burrows and re-appropriates product from the luxury industry. This may need to be applied to the level of service and experience required to keep the high street alive.
Reverting to a model that is focused on the local environment and space may be necessary, as the high street struggles to compete on price with online offerings and the convenience of out-of-town retail centres.
Jonathan Clarke, Director of interiors, Europe Woods Bagot
The high street’s future is service, knowledge, personalisation and ability to compete … For small stores to compete, the retail giants should put back some of their success to support independent traders, by providing training, buying skills, marketing and design know-how, distribution and so on – as well as open up their supply chain to high street shops, to allow them to source product as competitively.
Philip Dolman, Director, Studio DB
The internet has had a positive impact on UK businesses, but the high street has suffered. With 15 per cent of shops empty, a long-term vision is well overdue. We believe four key trends will drive people back to the high street:
Localisation – consumers will seek experiences that fit with them, their location and the social context
From sales to service – bricks can beat clicks. Never underestimate the advice and intimacy of a respected shop-owner, the experience of touching, feeling and tasting the product. Shops that celebrate their specialism and employ people who know their stuff will always be reasons to return.
Community hub – people feel disconnected from society. The Empty Shop Network reconnects communities through art and culture by negating the cumulative effect of abandoned shops, helping to re-energise business around them.
Multi-use – why should a shop do the same things between 10am and 6pm – when we don’t? Mothers’ groups in children’s shops before 11am? Writing courses in the cafe over lunch? Smart retailers will find new ways to suit changing lifestyles.
Stuart Wood, Executive creative director, Fitch
As high streets deteriorate into charity/Polska/pound shop hell, it is difficult to see how they can recover, with the scale of recession hanging over the UK.
High streets will have to fight back with some compelling reasons for their local communities to use them. The malls, online shopping, parking, opening hours and convenience are all reasons for not using your high street. Ignoring major hurdles sich as planning laws, intransigent landlords and inflation, there is no reason why those responsible for managing their high streets should not ‘cosy’ up to the mall operators and get them to help with how to manage these locations.
Callum Lumsden, Retail design consultant
Insight with Passion’s Huddersfield Town Centre Rejuvenation event went spectacularly yesterday evening, and we would like to thank everyone that attended and added value to what promises to be a significant step towards transforming Huddersfield’s high street.
With 1 in 7 town centre shops standing closed, and IWP founding partner Kate Hardcastle originating from Huddersfield, we decided to unite retailers, residents and organisations alike to make a change now that would secure the high street for the future.
News of our event reached Look North (BBC’s Yorkshire & Humber news programme) who were inspired to broadcast a live interview with Kate that left the room full of attendees silent! Kate also gave a passionate interview with Radio Leeds’ Andrew Edwards earlier in the day, showing that events like this are a must to ensure Great British high streets survive.
Following the live interview Kate and Richard presented their internationally acclaimed Retail Theatre presentation which offered clear and refreshing advice on how to take simple steps in-store that are proven to lead to increased footfall and profitability.
Comments from the attendees included:
“Thanks for all of the info. I’ve got plenty to go on and… feel that the presentation was very good.”
“Great to find someone so passionate about our high streets, especially Huddersfield, really hope it will improve.”
“The only feedback I can give is that it was great to hear what you had to say!!”
“This evening was professionally executed, I am a retail co-ordinator for the RSPCA and have… taken away lots of ideas and enthusiasm about the retail sector.”
With such success at our flagship event, IWP have taken the decision to roll the programme out to town centres across the north, including Bradford which will be the next host for our Town Centre Rejuvenation project.
It is IWP’s mission to transform the fortunes of town centres across the UK – and we will do it one town at a time!
IWP founders Kate Hardcastle and Richard Gomersall experienced the Disney magic first hand last night at an exclusive launch party held in the new Oxford Street store, due to open today to the general public.
Disney embodies retail theatre in their stores in a faultless effort to engage its customers. This new store, which will be the largest of the 105 branches in Europe, took fantasy, imagination and engagement to a whole new level.
Impressive elements included an interactive Disney Princess mirror where young girls can transform into their favourite fairy princesses, animated trees and cartoons on the walls and bringing a real life Tinkerbell into the room.
The excitement continues with each day the store is open. A ceremony is held where one child is invited to use a giant fairytale key to open the barrier and Tinker Bell will sprinkle her fairy dust on the Disney Castle.
Jonathan Storey, Disney’s marketing and guest experiences director, said that the idea was to create the best 30 minutes of a child’s day.
Good luck Disney, you bring your brand to life like no other.