Clare Rayner, Retail expert and writer.
It never ceases to amaze me that almost precisely when towns are busy with people leaving work, the shops are closing. I think inconvenient opening hours are the primary reason why consumers turn to out-of-town and online alternatives rather than spending on the high street. It’s not that the high street hasn’t got what they want, it’s that everything is closed by the time most people leave the office.
Let’s face it, those with the highest disposable incomes are likely to be working during ‘normal’ opening hours. The sooner retailers do something to acknowledge this, and make the most of it, the better.
The message is getting through for some, though. Retailers are beginning to realise the importance of creating more of a buzz in their local evening economy. This July (Independent Retailer Month) I’ve been encouraging boutiques to hold evening events in store - blurring the lines between shopping and a night out. Several retailers are staying open later, having live music, drinks and other entertainment in store, creating a sense of occasion.
Let’s hope these prove successful in terms of consumer engagement and increasing sales. Perhaps then more retailers will make a greater effort to engage with the working population, taking a greater slice of their spending as a result.