“Shopportunities” – More than Retail in Rejuvenating Towns
Tim Radley speaking at Dublin’s “The Future of Irish Towns”
Dun Laoghaire, Ireland: Thursday April 16th.
With the competition for shopper footfall becoming so intense between shopping destinations from small and medium towns to out-of-town retail parks and regional shopping centres the fact is that even a well-balanced retail offer is not enough on its own. A town requires “More than Retail” to tap into that potential customer base.
Firstly it’s important for towns in particular to reduce the negatives for visitors. Whilst these will vary by location the usual suspects are poor access & traffic congestion, unreliable public transport, insufficient parking, unfair parking charges, aggressive parking enforcement, lack of safety & security, anti-social behaviour and inconvenient opening hours. This process may need to redress years of organic growth within a town but is an essential when compared to well planned and executed modern shopping destinations.
The pluses are that even a smaller retail offer can become the preferred destination if its negatives are much reduced even compared to larger neighbours.
“More than Retail” must also play on the positives of towns. They need to become more than places simply to shop but places to belong, and even the most unpromising locations can build and create themselves into more emotional destinations.
Important elements to build on and promote are the uniqueness, heritage and distinction of towns, extenuating the character, personality and atmosphere of the location and the structure itself. A town must work hard to create a pleasant place to be by stimulating & improving authentic features whilst adding street environments, lighting and additional new signature architecture.
Local interest in the shape of galleries, museums, crafts and workshops must also be combined with retail to create a unique proposition.
The “life” of any town is now essential for attracting customers – street entertainment adds vitality with the regular injection of dynamic events and activities, markets and fairs, combined with the opportunities to simply relax and “belong” in cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs.
So, when it comes to attracting footfall towns must reduce the negatives and maximise the positives of their particular circumstances whilst building a unique proposition encouraging people to feel a sense of belonging.
By setting themselves up as alternatives not competitors to modern shopping malls, towns and their retailers can benefit from an emotional pull that their modern counterparts cannot compete with, except for occasional essential shopping missions.
Be a better alternative, not an out-gunned competitor!
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I am Tim Radley, founder of VM-Unleashed! and I was speaking at the “Future of Irish Towns” event at Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland on Thursday 16th April.