News has broken out that high street shop vacancy rates are at their worst level since 2015. With low footfall and increased rent costs, this has already had a major impact on well-known brands including Debenhams and Jamie’s Italian.
It may have come to light that there are more empty shops on our high streets than since 2015, but it isn’t going to be the “be all and end all” of high street shopping. The fact is that a lot of people do still prefer heading into town to go shopping, and I’m definitely one of them. It’s a much nicer experience – to hit the shops with friends, then have a nice coffee or lunch break, before continuing the spending spree. Admittedly, that isn’t something I can afford to do very often, but it’s still a much better experience than shopping online, (plus it’s always a hassle to return things that have been purchased online).
Although the high street shopping slump is a national issue, there are several ways in which businesses can try to reduce the negative impact it has on their establishments:
1. Hold an event
Whether you offer a free taster day, hold a business anniversary event or seasonal event, there are a number of great ways to generate increased footfall with events, particularly if you utilise all of the marketing tools at your disposal. Events like these will allow you to show your business in a different light, and let the public get more personally involved with your enterprise. Although they’re likely to be a once a year thing, chances are that any new customers who attend your events become repeat customers. As there is no marketing quite like customers recommending businesses to their friends and family, events like these can definitely help grow awareness and footfall.
I’m sure when business owners think of advertising, they’re put-off by how expensive they imagine it’s going to be. Advertising your business locally doesn’t have to be a major expense. When I say advertising, I’m not talking about TV/radio/billboard advertising, I’m on about print and pay-per-click (PPC) digital advertising. Depending on your target market, print advertising in your local newspapers/magazines can greatly impact general awareness for your business by having your brand in front of an already captive audience and dedicated readership. PPC advertising on the other hand is a method of advertising where you pay a certain amount for each click your digital advert receives. You can set maximum budgets to ensure you never overspend, which makes it a great advertising platform for businesses with less money to spend. Place these digital adverts over social media, or popular websites you know your audience love, to attract the most attention.
3. Think about e-commerce
If you don’t offer your products online, it might be worth thinking about. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the awareness you get with your online business may also drive footfall to your high street store. Operating costs are also cheaper with an e-commerce shop and so if you were thinking about opening another store in a different location, why not try e-commerce first? All you would need is a website with an integrated checkout system (and that’s relatively easy and cost-effective to sort). Many businesses, even the smaller ones, have physical high street stores as well as online shops, maximising reach (particularly to those who can’t make it into towns very often).