High Street Manifesto 2018: A rallying cry for small retailers

Here, we look at the latest manifesto from our partners at SaveTheHighStreet.org, who are leading the charge to bring fresh opportunities to small retailers up and down the UK. 

It shouldn’t be news to anyone that the high street has been under threat for years now. E-commerce, high business rates and economic uncertainty are just a few of the factors that have been causing shopkeepers sleepless nights. But with a concerted effort, those shopkeepers, the public and private sector and influential industry champions can make a difference and boost the fortunes of our small retail businesses.

Here, we look at the latest manifesto from our partners at SaveTheHighStreet.org, who are leading the charge to give back power and opportunity to small retailers up and down the UK.

1. Why does the high street matter?

The success or failure of the high street affects us all…

  • The livelihoods of 100,000+ local business owners
  • The largest private sector employer in the UK
  • The heartbeat of our local communities
  • The fuel that powers the local economy
  • The reason we want to live in some places and not others
  • The customer for a wide variety of related industries
  • The place where people interact in the real world.

The economic, societal and civic stakes are high.

‘The death of the high street’ represents a world of boarded up ghost towns, residential-only developments or lookalike chains where human interaction is minimal and most local entrepreneurship dies.

This dystopian vision represents one of the great threats of our time.

It is also far from inevitable and we are making a stand against it.

That is why SaveTheHighStreet.org exists and the more of us who join, the stronger we all become.

2. What is the successful future high street?

This is the most transformational period in the history of high streets.

The future depends on how we act now.

If we can create and safeguard the conditions for success on the high street; a stronger, better connected, digitally-enabled future high street will emerge.

If we work together and with conviction, we can live into a world where the high street economy thrives for generations to come.

This is a world where local high street businesses focus less on struggling to survive and more on investing to grow.

A world where the journey to a significant majority of all consumer spend is ‘online and local’, not ‘online or local’.

A world where local businesses are online and more online businesses are local.

“Each high street contains local businesses that can be empowered to succeed”

A world where technological innovation acts as an enabler for the high street not just a force for disruption.

A world where every local high street business has a clear plan and the skills, tools and support to execute it.

A world where the best opportunities are democratised; available and affordable across the market.

A world where those who aim to help their local high street community are empowered to do so in a co-ordinated and meaningful way.

A world where high streets are clearly defined destination brands with curated, nurtured experiences.

A world where the high street place-maker and the businesses on it use data to measure, understand and optimise their performance and plans.

A world where our consumer needs are more often fulfilled locally, in turn reducing our carbon footprints.

A world where the media narrative about ‘the death of the high street’, died long ago.

A world where businesses of all shapes and sizes operate on a level playing field.

A world where together we make a co-ordinated stand to create and safeguard the conditions for success on the high street.

This is a world we can live into if we act now.

3. How can we save the high street together?

Each high street contains local businesses that can be empowered to succeed.

These businesses need to be able to make more money than they spend over time. It’s that simple.

Empowering the market to build sustainable business models on the high street requires us to address the drivers of costs and revenues.

Many of our partners in both public and private sector will continue to focus on what can be done to ensure a level playing field in terms of cost structure. Costs ranging from tax to property, people to product and more. We will support any positive and pragmatic steps forward in reducing costs across the high street and we are optimistic there will be meaningful progress over the coming years. This is critical. On its own though, it is also insufficient.

In the meantime, and over the past 18 months, SaveTheHighStreet.org continues to focus resources on the other side of the coin; investigating the question – What does it take to grow on the high street?

We have researched all ten pillars from The Connected Digital High Street Manifesto that catalysed the launch of SaveTheHighStreet.org in August 2016 (Data, Discovery, Fulfilment, Experience, Product, Loyalty, Brand, Team, Money, Community). We have analysed the roles of stakeholders across the market. We have identified what it takes to achieve high street goals from winning new customers to improving customer loyalty and growing local footfall.

“We are a diverse and fast growing cross-section of the local high street economy”

Our core research group includes dozens of leading industry experts, 200 local high businesses on our Retailer Advisory Board with hundreds more piloting a digital assistant called Jo (JoinJo.com) that’s designed to measure and improve sales.

Tens of thousands of others have simultaneously been engaged through a series of national and local campaigns to help high streets succeed.

Together this led to the development of a new, future thinking, holistic model to stimulate revenue growth on the high street this year and for the future.

‘The High Street Growth Model’ includes the following eight growth drivers:

  1. Inspire local high street businesses to modernise proactively and invest to grow
  2. Educate local high street businesses on what they need to do now, next and later
  3. Support local high street businesses in taking action, on their own or with 3rd parties
  4. Nurture innovative solution providers who can enable the high street of the future
  5. Empower people and organisations who champion high streets, to maximise their impact
  6. Invest in high streets as destinations with a considered brand, experience and strategy
  7. Promote a more positive and accurate narrative about the high street in the media
  8. Optimise sales performance based on data at a national, a local and a business level.

The Eight Growth Drivers have been developed in market and now is the time to bring it all together.

Now is the time to apply the model in every borough, on every high street, for every local business.

Now is the time to take a holistic view of the challenges today and work collaboratively to address them; stimulating growth for individual businesses, high streets and local economies nationwide.

Now is the time to join forces and create the future we want to live into.

4. Who are we?

SaveTheHighStreet.org is a co-ordinated industry wide movement.

We are local high street businesses across all sectors, up and down the UK. We are traders associations. We are journalists. We are local government. We are town centre managers. We are media owners. We are technology enablers. We are politicians. We are chambers of commerce. We are place-makers. We are landlords. We are suppliers. We are industry groups. We are BID managers. We are developers. We are solution providers. We are local high street champions.

We are a diverse and fast growing cross-section of the local high street economy.

We can all play a role and benefit.

Joining SaveTheHighStreet.org is simple and free and the more of us that join, the stronger we all become.

Are you selling on the high street?

Are you representing the high street?

Are you working with the high street?

Are you championing your high street?

Together we can ensure high street success, now and for the future. Together we are stronger.

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

Related Topics

Save the High Street

Leave a comment