Future High Street Summit, (FHSS) to be held on 25th/26th March in Nottingham, believe that with the unyielding rise in online sales and the continuing downward trends in footfall, the UK’s towns need to look at what they can offer to entice shoppers back to the high streets.
IMRG reported that online shopping grew a further 14% in 2014, and sales passed the £100 billion landmark for the first time. Christmas alone saw a 13% rise. Although this is great news for online retailers, physical shops are starting to feel the burden – as IMRG noted, £1 in £4 is now spent online and the remaining £3 is likely to involve some sort of digital interaction.
“The BRC found that December saw the slowest growth in sales since 2008,” , claim retail marketers . “Retail sales like-for-like were 0.4%, although there was a small 1% rise in total sales over December 2013. Although it’s been described as ‘flat but respectable’, it’s still enough to make high streets and retailers sit up and take notice.”
This change in shopping habits was reflected by footfall data across the Christmas shopping period. Springboard revealed that Boxing Day morning suffered a 10.52% drop in footfall across all retail formats, whilst high streets experienced a devastating 21.7% fall in the first shopping hour.
Further reports from Springboard indicate that year-round footfall is continuing to drop, with December 0.7% down on the previous year; the three-month average is now at a 1.3% decline.
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The decrease becomes even more important when the rise of Click & Collect services are taken into account. Even though people buy online and visit shops to pick up their purchases, footfall is still dipping – indicating that it’s not just online shopping affecting our high streets.
It’s an issue that the FHHS event is covering, with a dedicated session on Day One, featuring leading industry bodies, to analyse current trends and address how regeneration leaders can address this rapidly changing landscape.
Speakers include James Roper, Chairman and Founder of IMRG; Diane Wehrle, Marketing & Insights Director for Springboard; and Zifa Sadriyeva, Founder of Zeta Economics.
James Roper comments: “High streets will increasingly rely on digital resources – their online presence, Wi-Fi and mobile communications – to link and leverage their assets, in order to remain relevant and viable. However, ‘Digital’ remains a foreign land to many town centre stakeholders. To fix this problem, IMRG and many other organisations are working together towards an inclusive national strategy and resource centre for digital high street communities.”
Clare adds, “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 within Nottingham Trent University on 25th and 26th March. For more information on the event and to see an outline agenda with the other featured high street factors, visit the Future High Street Summit website.
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