A HEALTHY, HAPPY HIGH STREET
The Hub HQ is located a stones throw away from Sevenoaks – a South East town ranked as one of the best places to live in The Sunday Times’ Britain’s Best Places To Live 2018 survey. Sevenoaks has recently reported a 99% occupancy rate on its high street and is arguably one of Britain’s most booming town centres.
Nationwide, the high street has recently recorded its worst YOY May performance for the last 12 years. According to BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker, sales were down 2.2% on May last year, only further highlighting the instability of Britain’s high streets. Only at the beginning of this month did House of Fraser announce the closure of 31 stores (including its flagship London Oxford Street store), and this is not the first high-profile victim. While this is the trend across most of the UK, the success of Sevenoaks appears to be that of an anomaly.
So, what are reasons for the demise of the Great British high street? Is it reparable? And can anyone do anything to save the tradition?
Here at The Hub, retail is one of our fields of expertise, with founder and managing director Rebecca Riches awarded Kent Business Woman of the Year 2015 and Woman in PR and Marketing of the Year 2016. We were approached by the team at a local newspaper – the Sevenoaks Chronicle – to discuss our thoughts about the current state of play of Britain’s high streets, share our advice to towns, retailers and shoppers and explore what Sevenoaks is doing to keep its high street so prosperous…
Big chains and the corporates just aren’t driving the market anymore – the consumer is in complete control. Choice and spend are both high on shoppers agenda, so ensuring a diverse range of shops are available is key. The high street of Sevenoaks has truly hit the nail on the head when it comes to providing such a mix of outlets and experiences.
Recognising consumers are looking for experiences as well as convenience is also important. Offering a social experience from - shopping to dining – and making the high street a one-stop solution will entice customers. It’s also a way to increase dwell time and tempt shoppers to spend longer in store. Sevenoaks high street embodies the features of a destination store – a place where shoppers can go to complete all of their errands and spend a few hours entertained.
Appealing to a wide demographic will boost visits to – high streets need to offer entertainment for millennials through to the older generations. Additionally, the high street doesn’t just benefit itself but the whole economy too – if people are drawn to the high street they will explore the area which can then have a beneficial knock on effect for the property market and consequently the wider economy.