Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Mary Portas Heads High Street Rescue!

If you're a high street champion like myself, you will have more than likely been addicted to all of the news bulletins on the Mary Portas High Street Review as released early today. Mary was commissioned by the government to 'save the high street' - a daunting task for most individuals but Mary is no ordinary individual: she is "The Queen of Shops"....

Her most valid point within her review is the idea of introducing social areas where you are bringing the people to a destination for more than just shopping. We should be creating hubs of activity - taking inspiration from the monster shopping malls which offer their consumer everything from fashion and food to cinema and gym facilities. If independent businesses planned wisely where they would place their shop in situe, more people would venture to the area thus creating more monetary opportunities.

But independent retailers can't do this alone. Surely there is a position within the government or council who decides whether businesses can go in certain areas or be on hand to advise where it would be successful with the right customer contact and neighbouring retailers? A visual merchandiser in the sense of business placement, or a branch planner in the means of whether the location is successful and so forth?

Another valid point that arose on Twitter whilst the topic of Mary Portas' High Street Review was trending worldwide (#portasreview) came from tweeter @mmm_newcastle "Instead of a National Market Day why not have a National No Supermarket Day?" What a fantastic idea! In my opinion (and like I have touched upon previously within my past blog posts) supermarket giants have robbed what used to make the high street so worthwhile. Now thanks to the likes of Asda, Sainsbury's, Tesco and the latter, there is no need to go to Curries for your electricals, or Homebase for your DIY equipment, nor HMV for music and games and remember when you was a kid and used to enjoy trips to Toys R Us? Well that can now be done down a designated aisle within your local supermarket. And thanks to the "fashion" lines of these unruly chains, customers can shop everything under one roof. George tea dress anyone? TU jumper? Er, actually, I would rather pass personally....

Whilst the government continue to 'boo-hoo' Mary's ideas saying they need better ideas to make a bigger impact quickly, they seem to be forgetting something. It took a long time for the retail industry to get into this turmoil so the same will be expected until we pull ourselves out of it. And in reference to the latter, 'we' all need to participate in Project Save the High Street. The government need to portray a positive image of the high street and cascade good news of when retailers are increasing sales so consumers 'buy into' the good of the high street as opposed to steering clear of the negativity that currently surrounds it. Customers need to embrace the experience of shopping the streets as opposed to from the comfort of their own sofa via the internet. And supermarkets need to stick to what they do best and leave the fashion and other retail aspects to the experts!

The high street needs to be creating the ultimate shopping experience and over time this could happen....we just need to discover that pzazz that seems to be missing! And I have all the faith that Mary Portas is the woman to do this......

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