Help for our suffering high streets that costs nothing
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