I hear with intrigue about the perception of the high street. What are local councils doing about the death of the high street? The BIDs have been setup in many cities to help with the revival of the high street, but is that enough?
Having spent many years now working with local businesses in city centres, there seems to be an overriding trend that is affecting footfall into the high street. The trend is ‘digital’. We are all engrossed with messages around ‘are you at the forefront of digital marketing?’, ‘you need to get ahead of the curve online’.
Here is a stark reality. Local businesses are increasingly becoming invisible in the online space, unless there is lots of money to spend.
The next fact is that there is so much coming in at us in the digital world, many people now describe social networking platforms as ‘doing my head in’ and although good to stay connected are craving social aspects of their life that are missing as we speed up the rate of progress of technology.
The other challenge with digital platforms is that it makes it so easy not to have to go out these days. It’s easier to seem sociable in an online bubble and order a takeaway delivery via an app.
Whilst we see many benefits of social media in reaching and connecting with a wider audience and we believe it should be in the mix, we anticipate a move towards a new way of being socially connected. Using technology to support our human experience.
The digital world is having a social impact on us. A negative impact on mental health. A negative impact on local businesses thriving unless they have big budgets to spend. Social media is having an impact on people going out and enjoying their city.
Although many businesses are aware of this and want to do something. They are not quite sure how to change it.
The Death of The High Street (we don’t think so)
We see two core factors that will safeguard the high street:
- Adapting to a new kind of high street. Working together with local councils and BIDs on the transformation. They need local businesses to collaborate and employees to start to turn their attention to what is available to them locally, with a compelling reason to change habits.
- Create a way for local businesses to make a small contribution that makes a compelling business case for getting involved.
We don’t believe in the death of the high street. Simply a transformation of the high street. If we all sit back and watch, it will take some time and not necessarily benefit our local businesses. If we are aware of our habits, how they make an impact and gain a level of control as businesses, then we can make a transformation much sooner and pave the way for a much more exciting future.
Imagine a high street where you don’t have any restaurants, bars, coffee shops or leisure. Would you feel inspired to do business in that city? Would your employees feel compelled to go out and socialise towards creating a sense of balance? Unless we address our habits along with local council investment and transformation into cities, then they are working against the tide and we won’t have a thriving environment for employees and to connect with local businesses.
A compelling reason to support local in your business meetings
Let us take one example of holding a meeting in a coffee shop. The challenge for local businesses is that for every £1 spent for a business meeting in a coffee shop outside of a local business, the impact to the local economy is estimated at 36p.
For every £1 spent with a local business, in this example, on your high street, it is worth £1.76 to the local economy through the creation of jobs and how that money is re-invested.
That means it’s almost a 400% more of a positive impact to have your business meetings supporting a local independent coffee shop.
Authentic Leadership – If you want to attract local customers, then you can show your support of local businesses.
If you are in business, then it is a good practice to be aware of the impact of £1 you spend. After all, if you want other local businesses to spend with you, then it is important to understand why this is so significant and be authentic in leading the way in supporting local business.
An Easy Way for Local Businesses to Challenge Their Habits and Make an Impact
To start to get the ball rolling, we have negotiated free hot drink perks in Wakefield City Centre. These are available for free on the Bleisure Rewards app. The free perks are an easy and readily available way to start making a difference for the high street in Wakefield.
Based on the economics of local v’s non-local then 1000 perks redeemed in Wakefield city centre, that is approx £5,000 investment into the local economy. That’s a significant contribution.
This is an easy way to start making a difference immediately and how we can start helping towards the goals of local council and local BID to make a difference.
The business case is that instead of buying two cups of coffee for your meeting, you are buying just one, so it reduces the cost. You also build a much stronger connection when you meet face to face.
From a high street business perspective, the fact that you came through the door and another person had an experience, you are driving footfall and may like to go back. You are also not spending money with their competitors.
On top of all this, the Bleisure Rewards app will ping you handy notifications to help you grow your business whilst at the venue.
It is a case of using technology to support your experience and bring a positive boost to the local economy.
Just one compelling reason to drive doing business back to the high street.
Working together, we see a positive transformation to a new economy of the high street. It’s an exciting time to influence it.