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Opportunity on the High Street

 

Written by Andrew Martin | October 25th 2021
Retail – and it’s struggles – has been well documented over the last few years. Even before the Pandemic casted several fatal blows to major brands, we saw that along with the internet’s rise came reports of the high street’s demise.

But far from accepting this as ‘the end of the high street’, Andrew Martin, AMD’s founder, argues that we should be focusing on the abundance of opportunity recent times have presented; ‘the end of the high street – as we know it,’ so to speak.

 

“More than 8,700 chain stores closed in British High Streets, shopping centres and retail parks in the first six months of this year, research suggests. That is an average of nearly 50 outlets a day as the impact of the pandemic and changing shopping habits continue to hit many towns and city centres.”
Reports the BBC earlier this month. Whilst these numbers are indeed loaded, they reference an outdated model – the grandfathers of retail – that have long needed a shake-up to meet the needs of a younger generation. “These numbers don’t just highlight the impact of the Covid-19 and online competition, they reflect a growing shift in culture to shop small, shop local and shop sustainably.” Andrew says.
Practising what he preaches, Andrew launched a secondary retail business in December 2020 to meet these needs. ‘Residency’ is a sustainable, temporary retail space that uses reusable fixtures and digital branding. The model allows brands to ‘pop-up’ at times that best suit their sales cycle, as well as affordably with minimal impact on the environment. With visions of opening multiple Residency sites across the UK, Residency also presents retailers the opportunity to be part of a local community without committing long term.
However, whilst Residency caters for short-term demand, Andrew firmly believes that permanent bricks & mortar have the prominent place on our high streets – if we rethink their function; “Creativity will always be at the heart of any regeneration,” he says. “Like most industries – marketing, media, tech – things are evolving fast, so it’s about listening to modern needs and wants, then rising to the challenge.”
The obvious opportunity for a better high street is reliant on a retailers’ ability to create an unparalleled physical experience; something we can’t get online. Andrew believes this includes amazing customer service, engaging spatial design and the ability to tell a brand’s story, the making process or showcase its values. “Whilst focusing on the physical is important, we also need to borrow from online experiences,” he adds. “Think personalised shopping experiences, and the option to deliver items straight to home – having had the chance to see, touch and try in real life.”

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