10 Reasons to shop locally.

10 reasons to shop locally, keeping those important independents retailers alive.

Wherever you live in the UK, there will always be local businesses whether a Coffee Shop, Home & Gift Shop or even a Fashion Boutique on your High Street. Choosing to shop locally instead of the major Chain Stores has many advantages for both the local economy and giving the customer that all important memorable shopping experience.

The need to improve your local economy

Local businesses are the backbone of our economy and have been for many years. Shopping at a local business, rather than a large chain, is better for the economy of your community. It brings a local neighbourhood together and shopping on a Saturday afternoon in your local High Street will be less stressful than hitting the Chain stores in a city.

The need to create jobs for local people

Shopping and investing in local businesses means they can employ local people  which has a positive effect on the health of local jobs and the community. By helping to grow the number of jobs in your area makes for a better place to live.

It creates a warm character and personality

The advantage of dealing with independent businesses is that they are run by people. As they are run by local people, you will find that the business/shops add character to the community with a warm and welcoming personality. This has to be more popular than a chain store, no matter where in the country you are shopping.

That all important memorable shopping experience

While many chain stores do have good customer service, it’s nice to have that  personal touch of a local owner who takes an interest in you. The relationship between customer and the local business is improved and goes further than just the purchase. Local shops quite often stock an inventory based on their own customer’s choices rather than national fashion trends.

Your health and the environment

There is definitely a positive impact on the environment by shopping locally. If you are in a position to walk to your High Street rather than drive, then this reduces the dilemma and stress of finding a parking space. Naturally walking has more health benefits and will certainly reduce traffic and air pollution. It makes our High Street more customer focused without the need to dive between the cars while trying to cross the road.

It creates originality and individuality

In a world that is becoming increasingly dominated by chain stores, independent businesses bring much-needed originality. It is so vital that local shops to have good window displays and in-store presentation. It is just as important to keep that “wow” factor to attract the passing customer. They can be a real breath of fresh air ensuring that the shop is refreshed regularly with its window display and even the merchandise. By employing a professionally trained visual merchandiser, the shop owner can then focus on sourcing new and exciting merchandise. Quite often you will find merchandise that is not available in the Chain Stores.

Help to create the identity

Some local businesses will actually help shape the identity of the area. A high street filled with unique, vibrant and colourful shops will attract more footfall and help to make the community a more popular and financially healthier area in which to live and work

Is On-Line the future of retailing?

Many people believe that the best deals can only be found online. You might be surprised to see just how competitive the prices are in your local shops and businesses. Are we becoming a nation of lazy people by ordering on-line, not wishing to leave the house and having no interaction with other people? And if the item is faulty or needs returning, it is good to know that by returning the item to the shop you will have face to face interaction instead of calling a premium telephone number and hear that familiar voice “Your call is important to us”

The budding entrepreneurs

There are so many independent shops that have started from scratch. For some of these owners, this is a complete career change, so choosing to shop locally encourages them with their business and they are more than happy to deal with your shopping requirements. By supporting your local businesses, you are helping to support local entrepreneurs who grow their business. Examples are The Langport Stores, Langport, Somerset, Taylor Jane in Reigate, Surrey, Edit Lifestyle in Petts Wood, Kent and Aida in Shoreditch, London.

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The rise of the Pop-Up Shop.

Have you noticed the number of Pop Up shops quite literally popping up? With the increase of on-line shopping, Brands are now fighting to attract customers back by creating the pop-up shop experience that will hopefully leave a lasting impression with customers.

Pop-Up shops were introduced in the early 1990’s in cities such as London, New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo. These retail event spaces create theatre, create a fun place to shop and generate new customers, while building Brand awareness. This is a great opportunity for the Brand to educate customers, as well as connect with customers who normally shop on-line. It gives the Brand an opportunity for a Pop-Up shop without signing up to a long, expensive and complicated lease on a property.

While most Pop-Up shops are in Malls or on the street, some pop-up shops still remain physical bricks and mortar stores. In many department stores such as Selfridges in the UK, Pop-Up shops are installed and become part of the overall department store environment. It creates excitement and anticipation when a new Pop Up shop is being launched and is an opportunity to for Brands to promote a new product, or something that is on trend or even a Wedgewood Tea Shop in Peter Jones in London.

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Watching paint dry?

As we know, retail is tough at the moment given the general economic climate and the current On-Line business. Retailers need to start fighting back to attract customers back into their stores. With tight VM budgets,  Visual Merchandisers need to create a concept that is inexpensive to produce and install. Window displays and VM sites around a store need to attract the attention of the shopper, create some retail theatre and give the customer something to remember their visit to your store.

As Martin Pegler (Author of Store Presentation & Design) said, “The buzz word is Presentation: it is all about the theatre in retail design. The curtain goes up on a new, different and enticing show. Presentation make the difference between whether the store is serving up ‘comedy’ or ‘tragedy’ and how the show will be judged by the shoppers.

The use of paint pots, paint brushes and over sized Pantone cards are both bright, colourful and something out of the ordinary. So if you are wanting a bright, fun concept then this will certainly catch the eye of the customer. Here is some inspiration.

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Work, Travel, Save, Repeat…..

When you see a vintage suitcase sitting in an antique store or flea market, there has to be an inspiring story about who owned it and where it’s been. Perhaps it once made a voyage to Bali or carried a soldier’s belongings or maybe an immigrant brought into a country, holding lots of personal possessions. Suitcases have stories, and that’s what makes them amazing conversation pieces, especially when they’re covered in stickers representing far-flung destinations.

There are so many tropical/travel window concepts in stores and windows at the moment particularly given the hot weather the UK is currently experiencing. Why not install an inexpensive theme, based on old suitcases to give your window that slight twist?

As we know, retail is tough at the moment given the current On-Line business so retailers need to start fighting back to attract customers back to their stores.  VM Budgets are tight, so the use of old suitcases that can be bought very cheaply, is a good way to give your window impact without breaking the bank. Here are a few ideas to stir your imagination.

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Back to School ……..

Although the schools and colleges are just about to finish for the summer holidays, retailers should be finalising the details of their Back To School windows. As with any concept, VM teams should be thinking and planning 6-9 months in advance.

In fact Marks & Spencer here in the UK have installed their Back To School concept acting as focal points around the store.

Here are some excellent inspirational window concepts from my files. Anything from fashion to chairs to over-sized pencils. The concept does not always have to relate to kids and stationery products. Back To School windows should be fun and a riot of colour and props. These windows should be inspiring and creative, as kids hate going back to school!

Given the strength of On-Line shopping retailers, with the help of the VM teams, stores should be stepping up a gear to ensure that all important ‘wow factor’ with creating retail theatre with both the window concepts and in-store presentation. It’s very much like the phrase “You Don’t Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression”