The high street debate is one that attracts much comment on the Econsultancy blog.
Feelings run high when it comes to ensuring the survival of stores in our towns. The situation has yet to crystallise, though it’s clear there are business models that aren’t best suited to bricks and mortar any more.
Alongside the trend towards experiential retail (shops doing more than simply selling stuff that consumers can buy cheaper online), a trend towards creating social value in the community may be emerging.
High street vacancy rates are steady in the UK at 14% in 2013 and independent stores such as cafes are on the increase. Part of the reason for this is social and local.
Most of us still value our retail centres as places to take a ‘humanity bath’, meeting people outside of the office, the church/mosque/synagogue and your neighbourhood.
But what else can big retailers do to engender a closer community? Does every store have to get involved? What about digital technology, can it play a part at a community level?
The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) has released a report detailing the business case for socially aware retail. The report includes the results of six months of research with three ASDA stores.
Whilst most of the findings are relevant mainly for larger focal points, chiefly supermarkets, here’s what I gleaned…