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Death of the High Street

I’ve never been one for shopping. To me it’s one of the most boring pastimes going. For some however, you’d think it was an Olympic sport. Spending whole days flitting from Gucci to Selfridges, Lunch at Harvey Nichols, and then a mammoth marathon in Next, Vivienne Westwood, Prada, Thomas Pink, JPG and then drinks at a trendy bar.

However, the high street is dying. You need only look in any shopping mall, and you’ll see empty units left right and centre. Now, I don’t want to see the high street die, I’m just not a fan of shopping.

So how do we give it a spark of life? Mary Portas did try, and failed, though her elaborate scheme was a bit to Haute Couture for a struggling outdoor market and would have been more likely to succeed in one of the big cities like London, Manchester or Liverpool. Seriously, no matter how much you dress up a crate of loose onions, they’re still loose onions.

The thing with retail (yes I do know a lot about it), is no matter which way you look at it, it’s fashion, and tastes evolve and change, thus meaning the selling method has to evolve and change with tastes. I’ve seen companies go under because they’re still selling in the way they did in the 80’s. It doesn’t help also that own brand products are flooding the market, so competition is high.

We then have the online aspect, which I’m afraid to say is like one of the final nails in the coffin.

So a new tactic has to be adopted. Make shopping an enjoyable experience for the masses. Debenhams is a nightmare because the store layouts are more like Pan’s Labyrinth than a store and getting lost is guaranteed.

I hate to use this term, but make it a ‘shopping experience’, not a chore. Also, not employing a 16 year old school leaver as head of marketing would also be a good start. You don’t need to have it all bells and whistles, currently the market trend is subtle and sleek, if you want to entice your shoppers in, you need to have a shop window that looks appealing to your target market.

If you’re a toy shop, you’re not going to have ladies fashion in the window. If you’re a Tailor, you’re not going to have a booze display in the window. There are so many businesses that have completely irrelevant window displays, and they wonder why they aren’t getting the custom that they need to survive.

Trust me when I say this, ditch the blaring music, turn the heating down (seriously, I don’t want to be in a heated shop in the middle of summer), change the window displays regularly and ditch the stock you can’t shift. It will take time, but everything does, and I guarantee you will see a change in the market and how people shop.

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Sara O'Connell
A passionate photographer from Arizona, Sara enjoys art and culture.