WITH online shopping making buying-on-the-go a growing reality, the high street store as a purchasing technology has to change ("Warning high street store closures will double", The Herald, January 17).
Rates and council tax reductions can help immediately but financial incentives are short-term carrots.
What is needed is a fundamental re-think around the feel-good "theatre" culture of shopping as distinct from simply retail buying and selling.
The shopping experience needs to become a much more attractive event, which will require retailers to learn new skills adopted, and indeed adapted, from the hospitality and entertainment industries.
Going shopping should become a visceral visit in which the customer can declare:" I look forward to going shopping in there, its attractive, I feel good being there, its appealing, with pleasant friendly staff so I want to go there as often as I can."
The culture of retailing needs to engage the consumer, developing relationships with the people who shop in the way pub landlords or hotel staff make efforts to bring consumers into the familiar circle of pleasant happenings and experiences.
This will require investment in staff training with a focus on developing "hosting" attitudes.
But work on the individual retail outlet will not be enough.
The high street as an embracing, commercially-attractive, living space needs to become a near showbiz- mixed zone branded by the consumer as "a place I want to go to often as it offers a variety of interesting encounters including shopping, eating and drinking, relaxing, enjoying myself, meeting people, being stimulated and entertained while offering me things that I want to buy".
A multiplex theatre of retailing is the high street of the future . In short, it needs to be another country where people go to feel good.
18 Needle Green,
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