The summer heatwave seems a distant memory, and England’s world cup exploits again in the history books. As Christmas approaches, and the air is crisper how has the high street fared? Is it heading down like Santa down a chimney? Or is it flying high like Reindeer on Christmas Eve?
Well, statistics from Visa show us that a comparison of July 2018 and the same period in 2017 showed a decline in spending of 0.9% despite increased staycations, which led to Thomas Cook reporting a fall in pre tax profits recently too. As a consequence, spending on hospitality was buoyed, but transport and household goods both reported a fall in market spending.
Retailers are having to deploy their own tactics to raise the profile of their business communities;
Ipswich retailer, Lynn Turner, Cake and Catwalk adds “I refuse to allow all the negativity from both local and national press that show a down turn in trade on the high street. Being off the high street our footfall has dropped and we have noticed a flattening of sales. But as a team here on St Peters we work together as a community to make our street as lively and as interesting as possible. One of our team has visited other successful small towns and we are following all their ideas and emulating their initiatives. Our street markets are just the beginning. On the strength of our successful one this Christmas we are planning more for next year. When choosing stock we actively try not to buy what is already on the high street, be competitive with our pricing and work hard with customers and after sales service. Which is something we can be in control over. Cake & Catwalk are going online starting in January with select items and with my events in the garden I hope to buck the trend. Its tough but we are not beaten yet.” You can visit Lynn, and look fabulous for less at Cake & Catwalk, 15 St peters Street, Ipswich, IP1 1XF.
It wasn’t just high street spending that saw a down turn though, online retailers were also affected, with a drop of 0.5%. Photo Credit; Simply C Photography
With Brexit and leadership uncertainty British households are understandably concerned about spending, where wages are only marginally growing above the rate of inflation. ONS data revealed in November showed that households were spending about £900 more than they received in income during 2017, causing debt levels to be the highest on record.
A survey by Nottingham Building Society showed that the recent increase in bank branch closures is directly effecting the loss of local shops on the high street.
“It found that 46% of shop owners blame the loss of a local bank branch in the last three years for negatively impacting their business, while 24% said it contributed to them going out of business within the last five years. Small business owners are suffering as a result of lower footfall, with 36% of consumers saying they would make fewer visits to their town or village once their local bank branch closed.” – The Guardian.
Darrell Smith, Director of Archway Carpets Ltd 7 Church Street Woodbridge, IP12 1DS explains how the team at Archway are bucking the trend by changing their approach, “High Street spending is falling as the ease of the internet takes out the hassle of parking and stomping up and down the street. So that is where we have pushed our business more towards the lifestyle customer..working with interior designers… holiday let businesses and offering our in-home consultation bringing our business to the customer!! Shopping is changing and so we as retailers have to change as well.”
In an uncertain climate, it appears that the common thread for high street retailers is to pull together, work together, and achieve together on a service first based approach instead of the hard sell we are all used to. It’s time for high street retailers to claim back their high street, and for consumers to shop local again.
Photo Credit; Simply C Photography