A ‘PERSONAL SERVICE’ and a strong events programme can help high streets weather the increasing challenge of internet shopping, a town centre manager believes.
Littlehampton town centre regeneration officer John Edjvet hopes promoting the social side of town centre shopping and working together with different organisations will minimise the negative effects of a rise in online purchases.
He said: “In the past few years we have seen the impact that increased internet purchasing and out of town shopping has had on town centre retail areas.
“Town centre businesses have responded in a number of ways, including increased marketing and improving their web presence.
“Success for town centre retailers is often as a consequence of being more customer focused, understanding that they are not just selling a product but also a service. It’s more personal.”
Promoting events will be a key strategy of Littlehampton town centre management in the coming year.
Mr Edjvet, who has been in his role for just over six months, helped organise Small Business Saturday at the end of last year.
A range of entertainment was put-on, with free car parking in three of the town centre car parks.
“Littlehampton businesses are keener than ever to work together to develop what their town centre offers.
“This is why the Littlehampton Traders Partnership is promoting the town centre through a number of events and promotions. The Shop Littlehampton brand is being developed with the line ‘family friendly shopping, in the heart of town’.”
Mr Edjvet notes the rise in click and collect market shows major retailers still value a high street presence, while an increase in ‘social’ businesses such as coffee shops locally continues to attract shoppers.
In Worthing, the Town Centre Initiative is approaching the end of a shopper survey, in an attempt to see how the town can take advantage of technologies such as social media.
The survey closes on Friday.
Town centre manager Sharon Clarke said: “The internet is seen by a number of independent retailers as the biggest competition to their business however the majority of the major stores are now seeing this as a big opportunity for improving sales and winning new customers.
“Currently, only a small percentage of independent retailers are trading online and those that do have indicated that the additional sales help them to continue to have a physical presence on the high street. “