Britain’s independent high street retailers are suffering.
Hit by the double whammy of new competition in the form of ecommerce; the so-called “clicks vs bricks” war; and declining consumer confidence in the face of Brexit, hundreds of thousands of shopkeepers up and down the country are struggling to make the sales they need to survive.
And that’s before we even start talking about rising rents, the business rates debacle, inflation, import prices and ugly town centres beset by never-ending roadworks.
Luckily however, help is at hand in the form of SaveTheHighStreet.org, a co-ordinated, industry-wide movement to support and empower every local shopkeeper nationwide.
The group’s overarching aim is to “accelerate the whole high street’s transition to a better connected, digitally enabled and more sustainable proposition.”
Completely independent, its membership drawn from global corporates, industry bodies, startup innovators, the media and independent retailers, SaveTheHighStreet.org can count on the support of disruptive high street store rental platform Appear Here, the British Independent Retail Association, CityHouseMedia, the Enterprise Nation network, Google’s Digital Garage, iZettle, PocketHighStreet, JCDecaux and a 125-strong Retailer Advisory Board.
The group’s latest endeavour is the implementation of a programme to support and empower 100,000 shopkeepers nationwide, through which they plan to tackle issues including striking a true balance between online/offline, reversing the high-street footfall decline, increasing competition, and reducing rents, rates and “extortionate bricks and mortar overall costs.”
SaveTheHighStreet.org have made a pledge to “identify what works in modern retailing today”, and they intend to keep it, starting by defining the country’s first-ever industry recommendations for successful high street retailing.
The group are urging independent retailers to join them by signing up for free; in return SaveTheHighStreet will supply weekly newsletters with first-hand updates on their latest recommendations, developments and updates.
“The more of us who join”, they say, “the stronger we all become”.
“Shopping shouldn’t feel like a chore, but an adventure and the High Street will only survive with the diversity and character that Independents can bring to that shopping experience”, says Karen Fitzsimmons, SaveTheHighStreet member and owner of Stardust Years Vintage Fashion in Winchester.
“We want to do everything we can to help make sure there’s always a space for them independent retailers”, says Appear Here CMO Elizabeth Layne.
“The British Independent Retailers Association (bira) is pleased to be working with SaveTheHighStreet; bira believes independent retailers are stronger together and that independent retailing in the UK has a bright future”, says bira’s Head of Marketing Sarah Arnesen, pledging the group’s support for SaveTheHighStreet.
Hundreds of others are having their say and pledging their support, and are likely to be joining SaveTheHighStreet on September 25th in London, to attend the group’s Industry Leaders Conference, where, they say, “retailers, industry and media will discuss recommendations and establish the first-ever set of high street retail Industry Standards.
Remember, you heard it here first. Nothing in the modern world of retail stays the same for long, but the tradition that underpins the efforts of all independent retailers has been forged through the ages, and its spirit, clearly, is alive and well.
With so many big names behind it, and so many still to join, SaveTheHighStreet could be on the verge of making history, and making “actionable change happen”.
A nation of shopkeepers? You bet!