Altrincham town centre will be the first to pilot “National High Street Perfect Day”, an initiative designed to bring together retailers, communities and local leaders to improve the UK’s high streets.
The scheme was recommended by Sir John Timpson in the High Street Report published at the end of last year. Timpson, owner and chairman of the eponymous shoe repair chain, previously ran a similar initiative across his own stores.
Altrincham’s National High Street Perfect Day, which will take place on Friday 17 May, asks the community, schools, Trafford Council and the businesses represented by Business Improvement District (BID) Altrincham Unlimited to come together and ensure the high street looks and performs its best.
Elizabeth Faulkner, BID district manager, told Drapers: “So many individuals and businesses have said they want to work together in partnership to try and make the town look and feel the best it can and continue the initiative on a day-by-day basis in the future.”
Every day in the week leading up to the event, BID will profile a local business that provides great service as part of its Value of a Smile social media campaign. Online checklists have also been developed to guide retailers in their customer service and store appearance.
On the day, retailers will have the opportunity to take advantage of mystery shopper services and personally tailored social media workshops to improve their online exposure.
Faulkner said: “We have a lot of independents in Altrincham, and although mystery shoppers are something that chains use a lot, they are expensive for smaller retailers to fund. There will be an independent review and a prize for the retailer with the best score.
“The social media spring clean will be bespoke to each business and will help them have the most impact online,” she added. “It’s important to help independents get their message out there.”
Altrincham will also hold its first High Street Festival on the day. This will include a fashion show featuring independent retailers, and multiples such as Marks & Spencer, which has a shop in the town.
“It’s all about awareness,” said Faulkner. “When we have held similar events, such as the Christmas lights switch on, retailers tell us that although they don’t do as well on those days, in the weeks following footfall increases because they’ve been able to push their message.”
Altrincham was named the best high street in England in the 2018 Great British High Street Awards following a recent regeneration programme.
Faulkner said: “Back in 2010, the community wasn’t necessarily as keen on their town, and people weren’t coming to Altrincham town centre. However, the community came together with the council and Altrincham Forward was launched, which put a plan together to work with the council on key regeneration aspects. It kick-started the thriving buzzing market town that we see today.”
Altrincham’s footfall has steadily increased over the last five years, and visits for the first quarter of this year are up 10.7% on the same period last year.
Commenting on how the government can help other towns to achieve the same, Faulkner said: “It’s about making it a fairer playing field for retailers so that everyone is operating from the same level. A lot of that relies on infrastructure and supporting things like public transport.”