For what seems like an age, reports of how the High Street is in irreversible decline have been written. In turn, if businesses in busy city centre areas struggle, the more community-based retailers will surely fare much worse, correct?
Not, it seems, precisely true.
Many industry experts believe that there has been a bit of revolution going on. Maybe not one that is immediately noticeable, but one that has been chipping away in the background.
The revolution, if you will, is from consumers who don’t want to purchase everything online from their phones or laptops. Convenience remains king and online trade is absolutely crucial for any business wanting to exploit every avenue of trade — companies such as Amazon and Argos aren’t going anywhere.
But people still love to shop
In fact, far from becoming extinct, High Street shops and independent community retailers offer consumers the physical shopping experience that remains as important to those addicted by it as it ever was.
Springboard Research revealed that footfall on the High Street over Christmas 2017 actually levelled out, whereas there had been a steady decline for several years prior to that.
The reason, it seems, is that many people still love the bricks and mortar experience of shopping, and that’s something online purchasing will never be able to compete with.
The record industry has seen a steady and encouraging rise in vinyl sales over the past few years and as a result, record players are being made and sold again. The publishing industry could be next to hush the ‘print is dead’ theory as more traditional values are rediscovered.
Nottingham Business School’s Professor Cassidy suggests the high street may have never been on its death bed: “There is a view that the ‘death of the high street’ has always been exaggerated.” Although the UK high street has clearly suffered a loss in direct sales as online retail has developed, there have been related benefits to High St footfall from this.
“In particular, the trend for those who order online to ‘click and collect’ and so continue to visit stores. There has also been an increase in retail sales generated from tourist spending, particularly in London, since the pound‘s sharp fall against other currencies following the EU referendum.”
Cities around the UK are seeing communities starting to flourish with independent cafés, bars, delicatessens, bakeries… the list goes on. Where independent retailers had long since gone, flourishing pockets of businesses are popping up, giving some areas such as Ancoats in Manchester a completely new identity — the once near-derelict area of the Manchester city centre was recently voted one of the coolest places to live in England — unthinkable as early as five years ago.
The only issue for the independent retailer is ensuring awareness and maximising their strengths. This is where innovative tech companies like FlipNpik will be able to help, enabling communities to fight their corner via the collaborative FNP social media platform that is especially tailored for local businesses.
By enabling independents to increase their visibility whilst maintaining a competitive edge that might previously have been unavailable to them, FlipNpik may have timed their arrival to perfection.