Help for our suf­fer­ing high streets that costs noth­ing

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

HIGH street busi­nesses did not have a very good Christ­mas.

There was a marked ab­sence of foot­fall com­pared with pre­vi­ous years, and the next 12 months is viewed with some trep­i­da­tion by many shop own­ers.

There is a ma­jor change tak­ing place in the habits of the buy­ing pub­lic.

Many are mak­ing their pur­chases on­line due to price and greater choice. So shop own­ers must change tack to at­tract cus­tomers back to their em­po­ri­ums.

First they must col­lec­tively de­mand lo­cal coun­cils en­sure that shop­pers do not have to pay ever-in­creas­ing car park­ing charges.

This can be eas­ily achieved by spec­i­fy­ing free park­ing from say 10am to 4pm ev­ery day.

Coun­cils will be hor­ri­fied at such a sug­ges­tion, but if they wish to see busy high streets they must make moves to as­sist traders.

There is also the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting Gov­ern­ment money to sup­port this.

Then traders need to ad­dress mar­ket­ing tech­niques where it is ac­cepted that the cus­tomer is the most im­por­tant per­son in the build­ing.

This means not only sales staff be­ing fully trained with a sound work­ing knowl­edge of prod­ucts, but also trained to mar­ket with a gen­uine smile in­di­cat­ing that it is a plea­sure to serve.

So of­ten these days, I find some shop staff who are not re­ally in­ter­ested in mak­ing a sale... ‘take it or leave it’.

This Brexit year is go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult for all high street traders, so they should be sup­ported by land­lords who have to ac­cept the fact that rents from their prop­er­ties can­not achieve the re­turns of yes­ter­year.

Surely it is bet­ter to have a ten­ant that is mak­ing some con­tri­bu­tion, rather than have an empty shop.

I be­lieve that there is a fu­ture for shops both small and large, but the cus­tomer has to be put first, and that means that some at­ti­tudes must change. For starters, a help­ful man­ner will al­ways as­sist, and that costs noth­ing. Rus­sell Luck­ock is chair­man of Birm­ing­ham press­ings firm AE Har­ris

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