High-Street Survey: The Perks + Pressures Of The Trade
2017 was been quite a year for high-street businesses, with the general election, developing Brexit negotiations, and the ever-continuous evolution of consumer behaviour. With this in mind, we were keen to speak to the business owners at the heart of it all and find out what they think about their position in trade. So, as the year drew to a close we surveyed over 350 high street business owners with a physical presence to identify the perks and pressures of the high-street. Here's what we found:
Overall, our findings have reported a positive, progressive trend in business on the highstreet; with respondents saying that business is still going strong both in store and online. When asked how positive they feel about trading on the high street in the next five years, 46% said that they see their future as “booming”; and 61% highlighted that having an online presence - to complement trading in-store - has been a positive development.
Which sectors have benefitted from online the most?
The sectors most supportive of expanding their businesses online were health and beauty businesses, followed by those in hospitality and then, small/independent fashion retailers. Many of these sectors’ target audiences would typically head online to read reviews and even place bookings – and this is especially true for salons and restaurants with consumers using smartphones to conveniently browse, book and purchase.
David Spickett, Director of Marketing, Operations and Sales at Liberis, says: “As consumer behaviour evolves, the majority of high-street businesses are moving towards an integrated offline / online strategy. Ensuring that your customers can find you in both areas will give your business the support to scale, and the ability to cater to a larger, more varied audience.”
For further insight on the online presence of small businesses, check out our previous survey findings and report where we discuss exactly how UK SMEs are representing themselves online and the benefits of doing so.
How successful have the last three years on the high street been?
57% of those surveyed said business had remained “steady” over the last three years; with small retailers (including clothing, gifts, bookshops and jewellers) who had seen the best sales in this period. The majority of these retailers (34%), are located in city centres, reaffirming that areas with high footfall contribute to the success of a business.
When asked about the positives of having a physical high street location, many businesses cited footfall and customer service as some of the top perks.
One business owner said that “excellent customer service can win over price”, whilst another mentioned how they had diversified their offering to increase footfall: “I run creative workshops - so people come in to pay to learn how to make stuff -, private parties, events and talks held at my shop. I keep things very unique and keep arranging events to draw people here”.
When discussing the downsides of trading on the high-street, business owners were unanimous in saying that rent prices and business rates are a growing challenge.
One entrepreneur said “high business rates and local authority parking costs for customers” were amongst the biggest problems. With the Autumn Budget announcement to switch business rates to being increased by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), as opposed to the Retail Price Index (RPI), we could see this sentiment change.