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First print was dead and now the high street too - but we're not throwing the towel in just yet!

Will you be heading back to the high street?
In today's digital world, we're fairly used to hearing the question isn't print dead? And our answer is, of course, a resounding no. As the high street now faces it's own "demise" with the high-profile collapses of Topshop and Debenhams continuing to fan the flames, we took a trip to Maidstone's Fremlin Walk to see for ourselves.

Last summer, we saw huge queues of eager customers lining our high streets when the shops re-opened for the first time, and this time is no different. As we paid Maidstone high street a visit this morning, the big change was in the absence of the large chains, the likes of Monsoon and Topshop. While the streets did appear to be busy, and queues had formed outside of H&M and Primark, we couldn't help but notice that a lot of the other stores remained relatively empty. Even with the apparent footfall, why were some shops not enticing the customers they so desperately need?

We've fitted out a fair few retail stores in our time from window displays to point of sale and from one supposedly "dead" industry to another, we've got a few ideas on ways we can take our high streets from doom to boom:

Investing in your shop front

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Now we won't name names, but some of the window displays on show within Fremlin Walk were a little... lacklustre. If you've got a store with a beautiful display offering 25% off, next to a shop with peeling window stickers and rubbish bags outside, it's a bit of a no brainer which you're going to go for! While some stores really hit the mark, with window stickers, floor vinyls and welcome back signage adorning their frontages, others had obviously pulled out last season's old wrinkly SALE banners from the store cupboard. You'd expect the 'shop front' on your website to be fresh and inviting, so why not your bricks and mortar store too?

Lowering parking charges

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This is more a note for the councils and private parking companies - but an important one nonetheless! We only spent half an hour browsing Fremlin Walk and were surprised to find the car park charge totalled £2.40! Would you be more likely to go to the high street or visit the free parking at retail parks such as Bluewater and Lakeside? Perhaps offering 1 hour free parking, at least for the first month of stores re-opening may give businesses the added boost they need to ensure there's a high street left to park for!

Focusing on experiential retail

The social side and sense of community that comes with a wander up the high street is something that cannot be experienced online. It's difficult to compete with online shopping, you’re not going to be competitive on price, so you have to concentrate on experience, on making shops attractive for customers and tailoring their visit in store too!

Marketers’ and business owners’ ears should perk up whenever something is declared dead, as it represents an opportunity to take a new approach that both surprises and delights. This week I'll be sharing some of our own tried and tested ways to revamp the customer experience in-store that led to a 10% increase in sales for our client!

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