The New Dawn for UK High Streets: Change or Die
This 2020 Forbes article discusses how the UK’s high streets need to evolve, in order to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, and consumer behaviour changes the crisis has either accelerated or brought about. To create more ‘human high streets’, this transformation includes: greater partnership working, inclusivity, more than retail, and feeling like home.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all of our lives, including our experiences as consumers – accelerating online shopping and stimulating the rediscovery of greenspaces and local centres. As the article states:
As Covid-19 has disrupted nearly every aspect of our lives, it has changed our behaviour as consumers for the long term. Emerging trends such as the reconnection with the great outdoors and a desire to shop local, whilst choosing to spend on experiences over material goods, have accelerated in 2020. The appetite for shopping online has grown out of a necessity but has enchanted new converted customers in how easy it is to compare prices, and discover new brands and products.
The author therefore calls for the creation of more ‘human high streets’, in order to survive the pandemic and transform for the better, through focusing on the following:
1. Greater partnership working - collaboration between the community, public and private sectors is needed in order to create and manage high streets that are built for the people who use them.
2. Inclusive communities - it is important for high streets to evolve into places where the community comes together and feels a sense of belonging. Essential facilities and services are required that meet the needs of diverse user groups.
3. More than retail - high streets are no longer places to just shop; they should pivot to offer the community a place to dine, work, share experiences, learn, exercise and play, as well as buy things. Multifunctionality is, therefore, key to the future of high streets.
4. Feeling like home - high streets need to innovate in order to gain and retain a sense of place distinction, by making creative use of vacant sites and units, encouraging independents and entrepreneurial vibrancy, and becoming the heart of the community.