How can I help ensure my local high street survives?
This year there has already been great change on the high street and it is likely there will be more to come as retailers continue to be affected by evolving consumer habits, increased margin pressure and property portfolios that may no longer fit the business model.
Andrew Shufflebotham, head of retail and consumer at law firm Addleshaw Goddard, says: “It would be wrong to talk about waiting to see a ‘recovery’ in the sector. Rather we will see an adaptation to the new ‘normal’ - namely, a continued increase in importance of online, pop-up retail, click-and-collect and other innovative delivery and collection methods, as a way to help retailers survive.”
He says traditional high street retailers need to develop a ‘whenever, wherever’ offer and must seek innovative ways to showcase their products, for example by space sharing with other retailers to gain an entry to market at reduced cost and risk. They can also invest in the quality of conversation that can be held with the consumer in a bricks-and-mortar environment and embrace the idea that the actual sale might happen later online.
Shufflebotham adds that lobbying for changes in planning law may also help. He says: “The importance of solving the current predicament around planning laws cannot be overstated if the high street is to successfully continue its evolution. Critically, high street landlords need far greater flexibility to help attract a wider range of tenants to ensure the high street becomes a destination and an experience.”
He says property will also be a key issue during 2013 and retailers managing their portfolios successfully will go a long way to determining their ability to compete.