The Evening Post:- 14th March
“The Fight for Independence”
An interesting article caught my eye today from online research company Onbuy.com. Their survey was comparing the opening and closing of retail outlets by region of the UK, for multiples & independents.
It goes to show how things quickly change in life, and in retail in particularly, the most dynamic of industries. Because what jumps out from the findings is that in all but 2 of the 11 regions independent retail outlets grew whilst also in all but 2 of the 11 the number of multiple outlets fell. Concluding that in many regions there is a tangible shift from the multiple to the independent.
Before we get carried away too much its worth saying that the independent retailers opening are largely in sectors such as barber shops, beauty salons, coffee shops and convenience stores, but even so this possibly marks a significant change in momentum in the moulding and renaissance of our high streets and town centres. This is because the backdrop to this shift is that in only 3 or the 11 regions was there a net fall in the number of outlets, and so for the optimists amongst us that means the number of shops grew in 8 out of 11.
And so how the tide turns and essentially the reporting of that tide. The writing has been on the high street and shopping centre walls for some time that the public is getting bored and tired with the same shops with the same stuff however the coverage has centred logically enough on the death of the high street and particularly the local independent store.
It takes the terminal demise of some well known names such as ToysRUs and Multiyork to turn the popular page onto a new chapter.
In many ways good riddance literally to the unattractive unsustainable local trader as a passive victim of customer evolution and bring on the new range of local destination stores, driven by energetic entrepreneurs, galvanised by a passion for their product, an interest in their customers and sustained by an understanding of social media marketing and Omni-channel retail.
In a classic case of chicken and egg, this new breed of independents benefit from the woes of the multiple juggernauts struggling to manoeuvre to the rhythm of modern retail and location planning, whilst equally pulling away the former’s frustrated patrons with their effervescent and attractive propositions.
The high street is far from safe, and in its historical form is surely a concept with no sustainable future, but as a community of residential properties and services, and to coin from comedy phrase, “full of local shops for local people”, the correct balance of independents and multiples will put the high street into a league of its own once more.
Whether local of national, just be a good retailer, with a relevant assortment, reasonable pricing, a welcoming atmosphere and friendly customer service. In a time of see-saw shopping trends the future will rest upon the ever-present fundamentals of retail that have marked the previous decades.
Some things never change, even in the most unpredictable of times.
Good retailers always know there’s a future over every retail horizon.
The Evening Post is my daily take on the day in retail…offering always a positive spin to take to your next shift at the retail coalface.
Sleep on it and drop me a line in the morning…
Thank you for continuing to read & good luck for tomorrow!
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