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Trouble on t’high street

This month, Business Support Specialist Heidi Green talks about the trouble the high street is facing and why.

There are worrying signs on the high street with some big names such as Maplin, Toys R Us, Jamie’s Italian, Debenhams and Prezzo, to name a few, downsizing and giving profit warnings.

While retail figures do continue to grow, it is at a much slower rate at only 1.9% in 2017 compared with 4.7% in 2016. This could be partly due to austerity and the decline in disposable incomes.

Inflation at around 3% and average wage rises of 2.2% does not help, but also the fact that people now buy online to avoid parking fees, pedestrianisation of town centres and traffic congestion.

The way we buy has changed as has our expectation of customer service. While we see more people buying online, it should be taken into consideration that retailers have increasing overheads through business rate increases and the effect of the minimum wage.

Here are a few tips to help your retail business survive and hopefully prosper:

• Make it easy for people to find you by being on Google Places for Business.
• Ensure your staff know about excellent customer service and there is a process for the sales they are looking to make.
• Immerse yourself in the community, work with local groups and organisations, a great way to build good PR and raise awareness.
• Put yourself in your customers shoes.
• Use social media to promote your business and any special offers you may have.
• Have a loyalty scheme to keep existing customers coming back and encourage new ones through your door.

For further help and advice on business growth and funding opportunities, contact Heidi Green, Senior Business Advisor for Selby District Council via email at hgreen@selby.gov.uk or telephone 01757 292332.

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