What can be done to save the British high street?
There was once a time when the high streets of towns all across England were the thriving hubs of the community, but that has changed considerably over the years.
Now, thanks to online shopping and the demise of several large chain stores, many of Britain’s high streets are slowly eroding away – a toxic mix of boarded up shops and discount outlets.
Preventing this from occurring is no easy task, but many of the nation’s small and medium sized businesses could play a part.
Various attempts have already been made to revive the high streets throughout the recession, including the Portas Pilot schemes, championed by retail consultant Mary Portas.
Helping SMEs onto the high street
Encouraging independent businesses on to the high street would be just the tonic needed, as many shoppers look for goods that are simply unavailable elsewhere.
The big stumbling block, however, is price – customers hate to overspend while tax rates and business rates pose issues for companies.
As a result, offering great value for money is important – a good product can command a premium price if it is clearly above and beyond similar products on the market.
Despite the prevalence of online shopping, there are still many people across the country that prefer to shop in store – to look and see the products they are buying first hand.
As a result, it is extremely unlikely that the big chain stores will monopolise the market anytime soon, providing a good grounding for SMEs to consider high street locations.
Taking advantage of the situation
That is where SMEs can take advantage; as such a move offers the chance to increase business potential while expanding gradually as the economy recovers.
However, clear business plans are important or similar issues to those that affected the likes of Woolworths, Comet and HMV could occur.
Developing a high street that maintains its character is important and what better way to achieve this than by assisting local businesses to get started.
By Phil Smith