Tuesday , March 28 2023

Do not save the high street – change it completely, retail guru Mary Portas | Retail industry


The collapse of three major networks last week put 30,000 retail jobs at risk and threatened the future of town centers. Experts, including former government retailer Sir Mary Portas, say there is a lot of nostalgia and a lot of optimism about the future of the British High Street.

Portas, who has been in retail for more than 40 years, says: “The days of stacking up and selling fast are over. “Dominant brands have done it for years, but they have failed to offer anything beyond the middle class. Does anyone really miss BHS? Does anyone care about Dorothy Perkins? ”

On Thursday afternoon at the Oxford Circus, shoppers lay thin on the ground. At Topshop’s entrance, the store manages DJ decks to meet brief information to create a “one-party atmosphere” for users. Sales across the seven floors of the flagship store are just a few doors down from Debenhams. Both entered power last week.

“We are looking at a new generation that is not going to take people like Philip Green forward,” says Portas. “They do not support businesses that do not prioritize people or desires. We are moving away from that: there is a new value system in play. ”

If she was not likely to lose her job, she would owe a good debt to the retail dinosaurs. Portus focuses on what he calls the “economy of kindness,” which predicts growth on the high streets, a beautiful philosophy, and makes a kind of contribution to making life better. But what does this translate to?

There are very few shops that sell real goods, and focus more on the experimental aspects of things – a catch that takes everything from escape rooms and nail salons to restaurants and street performers.

Mary Portas.
Mary Portas, retail guru. Photo: David M. Bennett / Getty Images

In the city, brick and mortar stores are expected to survive if they can offer something completely beyond the bargain – the best service can not be copied online, expertise or where people want to get together. Community hubs are frequently mentioned, while brands such as Patagonia, Glossier, and Nike are cited as role models for large retailers.

Research has consistently shown that sustainability, innovation and persistence are not just words for marketers, but the keys to developing brand loyalty among young consumers who demand that the companies they buy from be socially responsible. It explains what is on the high streets, where the most successful will integrate retail, entertainment, culture and well-being.

From Stock Newington to Stoke-on-Trent, pop-ups and local boutique businesses are expected to thrive on high streets with strong local communities. American Express and Google have launched campaigns to encourage consumers to do local shopping and support small businesses.

“Covid-19 crystallized a booming socio-economic movement over the past decade,” says Portas. “We saw introspection and re-examination of how we live and what we want to live. Globally, 77% of people now say that they value business decency as much as price and convenience. Deep and meaningful connections with the place where you live are more important than a day trip to an out-of-town shopping center or retail park. ”

At the Reading Center Center, retailer Mark Pilkington examines Broad Street for pedestrians anchored by John Lewis. “It’s not bad when you go on modern high streets: there aren’t a lot of windowless boards, and there are powerful services – nail bars and phone repair shops. This is a typical mid-market offer. ”However, he predicts that for retail to survive here, shops will become windows of goods stored online.

“There is no point in using stuff full of glorified warehouses when you can see and sell stock online. The shop level will shrink and engage customers in a way that they can not experience from their screens, ”says Pilkington. While most of this focus seems to be focused on fulfilling the habits of millennials, Pilkington and Portus argue that the overall reorganization organization of generation Z and younger, and High Street as a whole, will benefit everyone.

Injecting more theater and excitement into the traditional high streets increases the appeal to customers across the board. If you do not need skincare centerpieces, turn them into an attractive place to hang out. ”

This year, the government raised $ 95 million to revitalize “historic high streets” across England. The project, run by Historic England, recognizes that 68 high streets will be revitalized by cash injection, but this will only focus on those in conservation areas. The modern, high-street streets of each city need to be identified, which are being destroyed by cluttered windows, betting shops, and round-the-street discount toilets.

Reading by retail expert Mark Pilkington.
Reading by retail expert Mark Pilkington. Photo: Andy Hall / Observer

If Pilkington ran down a high street, he would “beautify it with some sculptures and flowers. Have stores that add services or experience – a change service or electronics repair. They will be of real value to that community, and you will not be able to copy them online. ”

High streets are also expected to be more habitable: under the new rules, which went into effect in September, it is now possible to turn commercial property – including vacant shops – into homes without planning permission. It is hoped that this will lead to a higher street revitalization by allowing commercial properties to be quickly rebuilt.

It is hoped that the relationship between businesses and landlords will change as rental systems become more flexible. In the short term, many retailers, including All Saints and New Look, are pushing for “turnover-based rent” to reflect their lease terms and reflect on taking over individual stores. In the long run, Pilkington says landlords should “come to the party” if they are serious about protecting the High Street.

“The lease is too long. Landlords need to be given a space where they can innovate, speed up, start a new business and transform through technology, ”says Pilkington. Instead of six months to set up a store, a business will “plug and play” this way, so that one day it can become a pop-up for a famous brand, and the next day a yoga studio.

In his book Retail therapy: Why the retail industry collapsed and what can be done to fix it, Pilkington argued that the main reason for the long-term decline in High Street was the excessive level of business rates. For the future after Kovid, he thinks an online tax is essential for retail reform.

“If the local authorities want to protect the high streets, they will make parking free and affordable. If the government is careful about protecting retailers, they will impose an Internet tax. Amazon does not effectively offer any business rates. ”

Appointed by David Cameron in 2011 to lead a review of the future of British high streets, Portus believes the Conservatives have systematically failed to understand how business has changed.

“They need to wake up. It is a shame that Amazon and the delivery giants have not yet adjusted their thinking on how to pay equal tax rates online. It’s a shame they didn’t do anything about it. The sluggishness and fatigue in their understanding is ridiculous.

“These delivery giants are blocking roads and increasing CO for you2 Exhalation, increase packaging, they contribute very little. No one has really looked at what we bought, when we bought it, and the impact it has on our lifestyle. ”

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