The decline of the high street is something we have previously written about a few times on this blog so we were interested to read this week that local authorities are now being urged to focus on the future of the high street – by devising ways to bring more trade to these neglected areas, which were once the heart of any town. Sales figures for Christmas 2014 have demonstrated a dramatic change in consumer shopping habits – and the onus is now being put on individual localities, to examine these new trends and devise novel ways to invigorate the high street and bring shoppers back into the town centre.
In March, an event dedicated to looking at the decline of town centre retail spaces, ‘The Future High Street Summit’ will be running a session alongside industry bodies in order to analyse current high street trends.
Prompted by information including footfall data from the Christmas 2014 shopping period – the session hopes to examine how they can address the decline. Last year, Boxing Day morning suffered a 10.52% drop in footfall across all retail formats, with the UK’s high streets experienced a demoralising 21.7% fall in the first shopping hour.
The founder of the event, Clare Rayner, hopes that by encouraging local authorities to engage with the problem, they might be able to find more ways to attract shoppers back to the high street:
“The British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that December saw the slowest growth in sales since 2008. Retail sales like-for-like were 0.4%, although there was a small 1% rise in total sales over December 2013. Although it has been described as ‘flat but respectable’, it’s still enough to make high streets and retailers sit up and take notice.
“Towns need to understand the statistics and trends to analyse where they ‘sit’ alongside similar towns. They need to benchmark their performance in order to measure the effectiveness of their activities.
“The trends are clear: consumer habits are changing, and it’s the responsibility of the curators of our town centres to help local businesses and service providers respond to that, so that, as a collective, they can support the transformation of their high streets, ensuring they are thriving and relevant to the new consumer demands.”
The Future High Street Summit will be held at Nottingham Conference Centre at Nottingham Trent University from 25th – 26th March 2015. It will be interesting to see what (if anything) this event can come up with and we will of course post any news from the summit on the blog…