02 Dec Show Your High Street Some Love This Christmas
As the dark nights are replaced with twinkling lights and carol singers become the soundtrack to our streets it could only mean one thing, Christmas shopper season is upon us. But the question is, where will you be doing your shopping this year? Will it be online, at large department chains or how about on your very own high street and village shops?
A recent survey by Visa showed the local high street as the preferred place to shop. However, although wandering around your local community, admiring the twinkling displays sounds idyllic, is it really our reality?
With only 35% of shoppers looking to go local, has the convenience of digital shopping left our high streets in a nightmare before Christmas?
You may not have given much thought to the importance of staying local while you hunt for those Christmas gifts, but you should. As it is those independent retailers who play a big role in boosting your local economy. And with Christmas sales contributing to almost two-thirds of those retailer’s annual turnover, a bad Christmas can be detrimental. And alongside 61% of UK consumers, we are concerned that the reality of the high street is, ‘Use it, or lose it’.
Where have the Shoppers Gone?
Busy schedules, bad weather and crowded streets are all factors which have contributed to shoppers reaching for the convenience of the ‘one-stop-shop’ retail chains or online stores. But the underlying Scrooge in this Christmas tale is digital transformation. As e-commerce rises (15% year on year) and convenience led lifestyle takes over, the traditional high street retailers have been left in the dark.
It’s digital disruptors like Netflix, Uber, Airbnb and Pretty Little Thing, who are challenging the established business models and empowering consumers through technology and experience-led shopping, that have capitalised. Quick delivery, discounted offers and an endless variety of stock all available form the comfort of your home.
All you want for Christmas is on your local high street
Clouded by the convenience it’s easy to see why consumers might have forgotten their high street. But it’s time to rediscover the magic of independent retailers and the important role they play within both our communities and the growth of the local economy. So, we thought we would breakdown the benefits of shopping and why Christmas, is the most wonderful time of the year, to show some love to your local high street.
1. Boost the local economy
Make your Money Back
By choosing to shop locally over large retail chains, shoppers can actually improve the economy of their community, with research showing that for every £10 spent within an independent shop an additional £50 goes back into the local economy. When you spend locally, it’s those business owners who in turn put money back into other local business including restaurants and bars. Thus, the money you spend circulates locally and allows the community and economy to thrive within itself.
High streets populated with thriving independent business increases the value of an area and boosts the cost of house prices. Not everyone will want to see property prices rise but conversely, any property owner doesn’t want to see the property market slump in their area.
Save Your Jobs
Keeping your money local can also have a hugely positive effect on local employment. You may be surprised to hear that our high streets are in fact the largest employer of jobs nationally. But with 16 stores closing their doors every day in the first half of 2019 and the retail industry employing 57,000 fewer people than the previous year, the decline of the high street means an incline in unemployment. Those jobs don’t need to go anywhere if shoppers put their money where it matters.
2. Personal Touch
The best things about independent businesses are that they are run by real people. There is no target hungry boards or faceless algorithms insight. It’s not to say larger chain businesses don’t have good customer service, but with 46% of shoppers saying they still prefer to shop in-store, it’s hard to beat the personal touch of a local business owner. For small retailers it’s more than just a purchase – their customers are an extension of their brand. They take the time to get to know their customers, so they can provide a tailored, more personal experience.
3. Buy Better
Do you feel like your gift-giving habits have become a little cold and repetitive? The excitement of seeing a loved one open a gift feels a little lost when you give everyone the same jumper in 5 different shades. That’s where independent retailers step in. Brimming with hidden gems and niche one-off pieces, it’s within these artisan markets and independent stores you can find that something truly special.
Forget that fast fashion dress everyone is wearing and stand out from the crowd with something unique. This not only keeps you on top of your friend’s best-dressed lists but also lets you do your bit for the environment. Buying from local retailers cuts down the ethically damming nature of fast fashion retailers. With the fast fashion industries quick turnaround, mass product mentality causing the fashion industry to become the 2nd biggest polluter of the world, there are huge benefits to ‘buying better’ and stepping away from the retail giants. Spend a little extra on something that will last, instead of landing on a landfill.
4. British Entrepreneurs are Hot Beds for Innovation
By shopping locally you’ll not only reduce the risk of turning up to your office party in the same dress as your colleague, but you are also supporting the growth of new British entrepreneurship. It’s our local high streets and villages who are fostering the talents of the next generation of designers, artists and retailers and if we were to lose our high streets, we risk those talents. Entrepreneurs at this stage are interactive with their consumers, they listen to what they have to say and adapt their business accordingly. This increases consumers intent to shop as they feel they’ve had a bit of influence over the products on sale. We all like to feel like our opinions have been heard.
Time to Evolve
The sight of empty window displays and boarded up shops has become our new look high street. And as we see even the biggest of retailers begin to struggle like Marks and Spencer and even John Lewis which has had its slumps, it’s a wonder how independent retailers are ever going to survive. The only real answer is to adapt if you can’t beat them join them.
Nowadays there is no escaping the digital world but what successful retailers are showing is, that a digital experience can complement a physical presence. In order for Independent Retailers to thrive, they must be adaptable. Willingness to change accompanied by positive customer experience is among the traits required for retailers to put their business back on the map. It’s all about getting the strategy right-thinking outside the box.
The retailers who will survive this time of upheaval are those who offer their customers something personal and unique.
So, this year we hope you choose to shop local and wrap up your Christmas shopping with a little more meaning. Venture off the beaten track away from the frenzied city streets and stroll around your local retailers and help celebrate the heart of your community.
If you’d like to know more about the reality of shopping local and the effect big chain retailer can have on our local economy, get in touch. Or why not pop in-to our store for a coffee and a catch-up, we are always happy to have a chat.
Colmers Hill Fashion Boutique is based at Symondsbury Manor Yard in the heart of a village, just outside Bridport in West Dorset. It is an independent boutique which also sells online via www.colmershill.com.
Photo credit: Doug Chalk