When we are seeing a major demise in the footfall in our local towns Amazon is picking up the reins and delivering over 42% of our gifts for Christmas according to a survey by Episerver.
Our towns where we once ran the gauntlet of other harassed shoppers have had to become creative to get us to venture out from behind our laptops and smartphones. Christmas markets, Christmas Light events and appearances from Santa and his helpers all try to keep the magic alive however we are still insisting on buying online. Of course, the convenience of being able to purchase your children’s gifts whilst in pyjamas past midnight is a bonus however what it the cost to the community?
Purchasing local does ensure that the money feeds back into the local economy. The community will prosper and you will feel better to know that you are doing your bit for the environment. Too much unnecessary packaging, countless delivery stops and the same again should you need to return starts to make Christmas far more red than green.
It's not just the online offer that is impacting the high street, the business rates are not supporting the retailers. The British Retailers Consortium has written to Savid Javid to contribute that these rates which are now 50% higher than in the 90’s have contributed to the financial difficulties being seen across every High Street in the UK. This hike in rates has hurt those that cannot afford it situated in the town centre whilst unaffecting the larger out of town businesses such as Amazon.
With Amazons income expected to grow in the years ahead, what can be done to save our high streets?
The City Centres: Past, Present and Future report showed that one of the problems of insufficient footfall in city/town centres was actually due to a lack of skilled jobs. The report also showed that towns that had fewer shops but more “knowledge-based” office jobs such as marketing, finance and law had high streets that thrived in current economic times.
Closer to home in Birkenhead we have seen a lot of talk about the regeneration of Birkenhead with Wirral Waters and Europa Boulevard projects moving full steam ahead, with these projects both offering leisure, retail and office facilities could we be about to see the rise in our local Highstreet.
Towns need to step up the offer and this takes collaboration. It can’t just be laid at the feet of the Council. Many organisations, stakeholders and individuals are responsible for developing a plan and the execution.