As we move into 2017 the UK faces an exciting but volatile mix of opportunities and challenges in the year ahead. Retail consultant Mary Portas shares business insights and advice ahead of her Spring Fair keynote speech on Monday February 6.
“One of thing things I am most interested in seeing is how people are spending today. If you don’t understand how people are living, you simply can’t sell to them. I will be looking at some of the influencers as well as global influences, such as how some countries are growing and what it is that they are doing differently in comparison to us”.
Looking forward to Spring Fair, she said, “I’m also interested in gaining future insights and things to look out for over the coming months.”
“The British high street faces challenges all the time. Tax has now gone up and rates have gone up again. The thing about independent retail is that you need to create a destination in order to generate footfall, it’s essential. It’s about the ‘why’ as opposed to the ‘what’. Ask yourself, what makes your shop unique to customers? People are human and they want to connect. They want to get outside their homes, despite the internet, they still want experiences and to make connections.
“Not to be selling online today is an issue for any business but it is not easy. What you should be doing is partnering with other small businesses which have an online presence and would be willing to work with small independents. Increasing social media and creating awareness is absolutely essential in order to be top of the game. What is happening now in high streets is that people are working on their own and caring about their own individual shops – not their community of shops. The first thing that I would do would be to work with other local independents and co-create spaces.
On the subject of trends, Mary pointed to the “big trend towards homeware”, a good, albeit competitive sector to be in. This sector has seen big growth and that looks set to continue [but] it is important to understand how people are buying today. People living in smaller spaces [are] buying fewer items, but the right pieces. They are willing to spend more to make the space work and are pickier about what they buy now. It is certainly a very exciting time for gifts and creativity within the home”.
Mary Portas will deliver her keynote speech on Monday February 5 at 13.10 from the Fashion Accessories Catwalk in Hall 20.