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Retail Industry Opinion

The High Street Has Not Finished Fighting

The high street has dominated the news recently - particularly as the number of store closures continues to rise. Scotland, unfortunately, is at the heart of the doom and gloom

The High Street Has Not Finished Fighting

"We already have a large following and loyal customer base in the West End of Glasgow due to our Byres Road site"
Jasmine Hunter

2017 proved to be a challenge for many retailers, with over 290 stores closing their doors for the final time in just one year alone. While 142 did successfully open, the number was not enough to fight the ever increasing panic taking over the streets.


Across the UK, retailers experienced a very similar story. In 2017, an estimated 5,855 stores closed. This total works out at an astonishing 16 per day. The news was further dominated by high street stalwarts, such as Toys R Us entering administration, New Look adopting a CVA with their creditors and House of Fraser closing a number of stores around the UK. The above casualties of the high street serve to highlight the surmounting pressures retailers are facing today, particularly with the rapid growth of online shopping. However, all is not lost for the high street…


One retailer attempting to fight the struggles is Time & Tide. The independent interior store first opened their doors in 2009, boasting a store in North Berwick. As the shop proved successful, they opened a further six stores - located in Peebles, Edinburgh and Glasgow, complimented by their online site.


Most recently, Time & Tide have opted to embrace the high street and resolve to face the pressures by opening their seventh store in the heart of Glasgow’s bustling furniture and furnishings district. Late 2017, the store launched to huge fanfare, and is three times the size of their previous sites.


Jasmyn Hunter, E-commerce and Marketing Manager for Time & Tide, said: “We saw a great space available, which is now the site of our St Georges Place store, which we felt would allow us not only to display our interior product, but to create an inspiring interior setting with the drama to justify the building and location. We already have a large following and loyal customer base in the West End of Glasgow due to our Byres Road site and, as such, the new venture allowed us to capitalise and build on these existing relationships.”


Time & Tide are just one of the many Scottish retailers looking to invest in the ailing high street. According to the Local Data Company (LDC), Scotland recorded the highest number of unoccupied retail units in the UK - signifying an increase for the first time in five years. However, there are many other stores investing doing the same.

Time & Tide, like many other independent retailers, started small. The business began selling a selection of seaside interiors, from their site base in North Berwick. The primary aim for doing so was capitalising on the coastal interior trends, and expanding rapidly. As popularity for the trend increased, so did expansion. Today, Time & Tide operates from seven locations and they attribute the success to their ability to offer an experience to their consumers.


Behind the negative headlines of the high street and the rise and fall of e-commerce lies potential to adapt.


“We still believe that, particularly on interior product, plenty of people still want to see, experience and be inspired by a physical store location where they can interact with product and person. However, it would be incorrect to assume that this is the only means to trade. The real war on the high street is finding the balance of bricks and clicks and being proactive and open to the changing environment. This, for us, means servicing all of our customers in the location which is most convenient for them - be it in one of our beautiful stores or the comfort of their home.”


Those brand offering consistency between online and offline and harnessing the potential to directly communicate with consumers in store will survive the changes. You must match the offering of online and provide your prospects with something unique; something that digital can never compete. Start working with influencers within your industry to encourage them to the store, thus increasing footfall. Similarly, host events and become part of the local community - people love to support local, independent businesses.


Today, a combination of traditional and modern will certainly help you thwart the threats.