High Streets Initiative · 10 April 2017

Introducing the Business Advice High Streets Initiative

High Streets Initiative: The champion of local independent business owners
As the mouthpiece for sole traders and micro businesses around the UK, our High Streets Initiative is a natural extension of our desire to promote small enterprise.?

They remain a cornerstone of the country’s local communities, yet high streets in towns and cities up and down the UK are struggling to keep pace with the ever-changing face of British retail.

Last year, the UK experienced five independent retail business closures every day on average, as local shop owners suffered from declining sales figures and depreciating footfall. In contrast, the country also endured the lowest level of local retail business openings in five years, according to a report by consultancy PwC.

Recognising the current plight of small retailers, Business Advice’s all-new High Streets Initiative will champion local independent business owners by identifying those issues which prevent UK high streets from flourishing ranging from local parking restrictions to the national business rates system.

High Streets Initiative will empower business owners, addressing common concerns via our regularly-updated hub. By continuing to publish vital news, features, case studies and interviews, well act as the voice for local independent retailers who feel as though their views arent being heard.

Well also pay close attention to the area of ecommerce a retail trend affecting the modern sales environment arguably more than any other.

Industry statistics continue to show swathes of small UK shop owners failing to develop an online offering whilst struggling to keep their bricks and mortar stores afloat and competitive on the high street.

Striking the so-called bricks and clicks? balance has become a key worry for many independent retail owners. A January 2017 survey from CapgeminI revealed the in-store frustrations of shoppers when they can’t access many of the features common to online retail.

Asking the views of some 6, 000 retail consumers, 71 per cent of the survey’s respondents said they found it difficult locating items in a bricks and mortar store, while 68 per cent expressed annoyance at having to spend time queuing.

When it comes to in-store promotions, 65 per cent of shoppers last year claimed that they werent as relevant as those offered to them whilst browsing online, and the same proportion stated they simply werent able to find what was being sought in bricks and mortar stores, as opposed to online.

it’s increasingly clear that smaller business owners who fail to invest time and money developing a digital presence will find competing with larger retailers more and more difficult. Nonetheless, there’s evidence to suggest that the so-called death of the high street? which some retail commentators consider to be imminent is perfectly avoidable, and far from inevitable.

The demand for in-store experiences, and a desire to physically see and touch products before buying them, continues unabated.

According to one further study, published last year by Barclays, 63 per cent of British consumers prefer seeing products in real life before buying them.



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.