What can we do to save our high streets?

The high-street has taken a knock in recent years, and retail in particular, has taken one of the biggest hits yet. Companies going into admission, stores closing down and jobs being cut from some of the largest retail companies in the UK.

Is the high-street at a dead end?

But is it fair to say that the high-street is completely dying, or is it simply transforming and trying to adapt into an environment that it’s been thrown into? It cannot be ignored that anyone starting a business from scratch is going to hit hurdles and challenges, and the high street retailers that we are all familiar with, make up a lot of our high street shops and restaurants, so it can be hard for new local and independent businesses to make their mark on their high street. Yet, independent businesses are also still a huge part of the high-street and a lot of the time, they are seen as the heart of their community. For example, in recent years, local/independent coffee shops have jumped up the ladder, competing with some of the larger corporations. Statistics from statista.com highlight local coffee shops had a number of 10044 users in the UK in 2018, whilst Starbucks were not too far in front with 10,125. So, independent businesses have, and still are proving, that the offline experience is going anywhere quite yet, even amongst the collapsing of large corporations.

However, although places like independent coffee shops have grown in popularity, we cannot ignore the fact that the high-street has declined, offline shopping has fallen on an average rate of 10% from 2019, according to bbc.co.uk, whilst online sales have increased to 12.4% from January 2019. Looking at these figures, this is more of a reason for consumers to get behind small local businesses, ensuring that these don’t drop to a level that leads to independent shops closing down. Yet there are various ways to help support local businesses. For example, Scooploop, the free social community network gives consumers, local business owners and charities, the opportunity to communicate and engage within their local area and branch out to a wider audience, as well as network with fellow local businesses in the area. Scooploop is a network that wants to help save the high-street from a complete decline and increase activity in local communities for residents and businesses.

Are SME’s ruling the high-street scene?

According to the fsb.org.uk, SME’s account for 99.9% of the business population (5.9 million businesses). Suggesting that the high street and its small businesses are going strong, and although larger retailers are declining, (some unfortunately going into admission) this does not mean that long-standing, trusted local SME’s are in trouble. Indeed, it would be naïve to ignore the fact that not all SME’s are going to be safe from going under, this is inevitable for some businesses unfortunately. But local communities can play a huge role in helping their local shops and restaurants etc. By regularly going to your local restaurant for example, you are instantly supporting them by trying the menu and who knows, if you go often enough, you might get a freebie or two! It’s the little things that local residents can do to show their support for their high street, such as using the car mechanic from down the road, popping to the local grocery shop or even use the local nursery. Doing these acts can help back local businesses, and also continue to create a sense of community within the area, and importantly, support and help build your local economy by using small local businesses.

As established, larger companies are shifting to the online space, and by doing this, it has given small businesses extra room to make their mark on the high-street. Although the high street still remains a risky time for all businesses and has been under fire in the news lately, it is debatable that small businesses are the underdogs on the high street. With the support from local residents of the community, small and independent businesses can continue to strive and help save the high street from completely disappearing.