Anyone who has taken a stroll down their local high street recently will have certainly noticed the decline in new shops opening up. In fact, with many big name retailers choosing to close shops and many stores remaining empty for long periods of time, it is a development that is hard to miss. It is definitely time for change when it comes to the high street – but could online heavy weights Amazon really provide the answer?
While last Christmas retailers reported good sales, it is more obvious than ever that the way people are spending their money is changing. It was concluded that more than 1 in 5 pounds were being spent online rather than on in store purchases. Those sorts of numbers will be a concern for big name stores, especially with 1 in 10 stores now being left empty and well-known brands closing shops all the time.
Most recently, retailers such as New Look, L.K. Bennet and Debenhams have all closed a number of stores – so the only question left to ask is, what can be done to bring people back to the high street? And it seems the answer may just be coming from the ‘love them or loathe them’ online giant Amazon.
Amazon has recently invested in a brand new project to help small businesses dip their toes into store ownership; giving them the chance to try selling their products in a store, with little to no risk. And they’re doing this by opening up a number of ‘pop-up’ shops across the UK called Clicks and Mortar. This year long pilot programme will see 10 shops opening in total, with 100 small businesses opting to take part.
The stores are a base for these small companies, who usually only sell online, to see how selling in an actual bricks and mortar store could work for growing their business. Rental costs are low and only cover short periods of time, giving the small businesses involved the chance to gain valuable customer feedback on their products and how they approach sales.
While the cynics in the industry seem set on focusing on Amazons obvious ‘secret agenda’ for being involved with this kind of project, the team here at Pimble can’t help but think that this injection of both innovation and investment in our failing high street can only be a good thing. The pop-up shops do seem to be attracting a good amount of attention – and for once it’s nice to see something a bit different amongst the coffee houses and pound stores.
Yes, we’re sure the good PR will ultimately work in Amazons favour, but you can’t fault their attempt at boosting the high street with some much needed investment – especially at a time when it seems no one else is willing to step in.
What we truly love to see is that this pilot project proves what we’ve always thought here at Pimble; that it doesn’t need to be shops verses online when it comes to retail, in fact the two should be able to – and can - work in harmony together.