Lifestyle retailer White Stuff hopes to encourage footfall by turning stores into community hubs through a series of initiatives including swap shops and book clubs.
The 78-strong chain will launch swap shops where customers can meet to exchange second-hand White Stuff clothing in six stores including Salisbury, St Albans and Tunbridge Wells next month. Customers will be asked to give a donation to take part in the exchange which will go to a local charity.
It is also launching a monthly book club, also in six stores, this time including Battersea, Cardiff and Norwich, in which sponsor Penguin Books will provide books free of charge. The move comes after customer research found that White Stuff shoppers’ number one leisure pursuit is reading.
White Stuff creative director Lee Cooper said people still wanted to be out shopping and in the community despite a fall in disposable income. He added: “We’re not on primary high streets. We’re local shops for local people. Initiatives like this help us engage with people.”
Cooper said the schemes also reflected the need for retailers to innovate in a bid to maintain footfall levels as the role of the high street evolves. He said: “If people want to buy cheaply they can do so online. Going to stores must bring an experience; it’s about theatre, drama and sociability.”
White Stuff launched in-store cinemas in three shops last year, where parents can drop kids off while shopping. The retailer now hires out the cinemas for children’s parties out of working hours.