Rethinking the high street – recovery and renaissance

Melanie Richardson


The high street was in decline well before Covid-19 hit, however the pandemic has accelerated this trend and lockdown has started to build purchasing habits removed from in store buying. This article will discuss the evolving role of the high street and how in store customer experience is at the heart of the revival.

This week we have seen the reopening of non essential stores and watering holes around Britain. People are back on the streets, the government is pushing a message of ‘shopping with confidence,’ and trying to instil a positive vision of the retail environment. Despite this, recent polls indicate that almost half of respondents would not be comfortable visiting recently opened stores…



Covid Confidence


In the short term it’s key to generate confidence in staff and customers, that as a physical location business you are taking all necessary precautions to ensure their safety.  Taking the steps is only half of the battle – communicating that to ensure your customers are aware of it is the other half.


Government guidelines can be found here



Clear message & purpose


As for any business, the key question is what problem are you solving for your target market? Are you sufficiently differentiated from what can be found elsewhere?  Having a laser focus on these questions will force you to hone your reason for being and will allow you to base business decisions on a focused route forward. Why should people come into your store?


Service, expertise & advice


Britain isn’t known for its customer service in the same way that places like America are. This is an easy way to differentiate, but a difficult route in practice. Hiring staff with a naturally personable demeanor and a genuine interest and passion in your products is difficult but essential. Customers will start to see you as an expert in your chosen industry and come to you for advice – this is the additional value that will encourage people to come to your location.


Experiential retail


For major brands, stores are becoming a marketing investment for their online sales. For example Aesop has taken a bold approach to differentiate each store using local materials to create a ‘glocal’ global yet local, beautiful in store experience for their customers.  Its a place that you want to spend time in. You can’t get this experience online…it is a reason to physically go to their location.



Online presence - connecting online & offline journeys


The lockdown has forced consumers to buy online. New buying habits have been formed, all demographics are comfortable browsing and buying online. This will only increase in the years to come. To ensure survival as a physical location retail business, giving customers the option of where and how they want to shop is a great way to start. Connecting the online and offline experience will be the key to the survival of the high street.




Businesses that accept and embrace the changes that are happening in society and in purchasing habits, businesses that innovate with vitality and push forward into the new normal will be the ones that will survive and ensure the survival of the high street. There are huge opportunities to take advantage of in the new normal.


We have worked with countless businesses over the nearly hundred years we have been operating.  We have seen businesses that innovate across man different retail segments. If you have questions and are interested in discussing your options please get in touch with Melanie Richardson our Managing Partner who will be able to advise you further.


Melanie managing partner East Sussex Accountants



Tel: 01825 763366

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