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Saving the high street

Town centre shopping is in decline, what if there was a way to bring the convenience of online to the street.

In my hometown of Ballymena, the impression is of a feeling of despair from many traders. Year on year, sales figures and footfall are down, it’s a nationwide trend.

And it’s not just because of poor political decisions or road works, although those things don’t help. It’s quite simple really: less people are shopping on the high street.

The reasons are many and varied: lost jobs, lack of community pride, out of town centre retail parks, supermarkets, short term savings of buying online winning out over supporting the local area and the convenience of online.

I know for me personally convenience is one of the biggest reasons that my first port of call is often a screen rather than a street.

It’s not just about price, it’s about convenience and when we live increasingly busy lives, convenience matters a lot more than saving a few pounds.

Often I’m not even sure if somewhere on my local high street even stocks what I’m after. One of the last things I bought online was a Smallrig DSLR Shoulder Rig Case for Sony A7s. I didn’t even think to look locally.

I would suggest that a large number of people fall into this category.

They believe in supporting local, they are even happy to pay extra for the products that they buy, but even with the best of intentions they struggle with the choice of getting dressed, driving into town, parking, walking, browsing, buying and walking and driving back again. Versus tap, tap, tap, done.

Especially if they don’t even know if somewhere locally even stocks what they are after.

What if there was a way to make high street shopping more convenient, a practical solution that would make life easier for everyone.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since last Christmas. The Ballymena Bear Christmas film was a great success in terms of viewing numbers, guest appearances and anecdotal stories of new business for some of the featured businesses. But its long-term benefits are very hard if not impossible to measure.

So we’ve been thinking about something practical, and something that would benefit any high street in any town.

I’m not talking about eccommerce, not every business owner has the time to maintain an online store and not every product is suited to being sold online. I’m talking something different, something simple and something convenient.

Watch this space.

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