Almost all those questioned said they would visit bricks and mortar stores more frequently if those shops were to offer something “unique”, while two thirds said they wanted to see more locally made and British manufactured products in stores.
20 per cent of the shoppers surveyed did more than half of their shopping online, but one in five were concerned with the provenance of items and gave the highest priority to gifts and foods that are locally produced.
Special occasion shopping was found to be one of the biggest challenges faced by consumers, with more than half of respondents saying they wanted easier access to unique and British made gifts. Flexible opening times, including late night opening and in-store events, were also cited as good ways to encourage more high street shopping.
Trade shows are increasingly doing their bit to promote British made products, in particular the British Craft Trade Show (BCTF), which has showcased the best of British made artisan products for the past 44 years. The next show will take place from April 7-9 at the Yorkshire Event Centre.
Top Drawer (January 13 – 19) has a Product GB trail for visitors to follow, while Scotland’s Trade Fair provides a fabulous showcase for Scottish designers, amongst others from fuerther afield.
Founder of retail sourcing specialist, The Great British Exchange, Matthew Hopkins, said shoppers were bored with the current offering on the high street and that retailers needed to find a strong point of difference to get more customers through the doors. “Even more critical is the need to give consumers something they can’t find online. People often say bricks and mortar retail is dead but I disagree. It just needs to be done well and that means injecting some excitement and originality into a pastime that has lost its soul”.
Writing for the UK’s largest retail trade event, Spring Fair, Martin Holland, winner of the BBC’s Great Interior Design Challenge, agrees with the assessment, saying: “It’s safe to say that traditional bricks and mortar retail isn’t dead, it’s simply changing and in its wake presenting some exciting opportunities for independent retailers to creatively diversify their in-store offering and connect with their customers through an elevated and personalised experience. Key to this experiential retail revolution is the design of our shops which now need to deliver something that simply can’t be replicated online. Design that enriches our lives and leads us on a journey, resonating with the customer, their lifestyle and connecting with them on a whole new level.
Images from top to bottom: Penguin Party Wrapping Paper by Martha & Hepsie, available through The Great British Exchange; Claire Baxter (BCTF), Hawkshead Relish (Top Drawer) and Abigail Bury (BCTF).