From reading the press and newswires everyday it appears that The Great British High Street is having a tough time. Stories of closures and cut backs abound and most weeks there aren’t too many glimpses of good news, launches or money being made.
Last week however, Uniqlo opened in Manchester across three storeys in the former BHS store on Market Street. SKV Communications worked on the launch of the original Uniqlo store back in 2002, not long after the Japanese brand entered the UK market, and now their investment in this Northern flagship sends a signal that they see big opportunities in the city.
SKV has also managed the opening of Zara on the corner of Exchange Square with an opening party for over 1,000 of the city’s movers and shakers entertained by DJs from New York, photographers from Berlin and a Spanish operations team whose role was to fly around the globe opening Zara’s at the rate of one a week.
We’re aware that town centres are challenged by the trends of the larger out-of-town retail, online shopping and the glamour of what is going on in the city centres. Its undeniable that statistics show visits to UK town centres are down 17% over the past decade and online shopping is rising 10% a year. But Government research recently found that 8 out of 10 people in the North-west believe ‘that the High Street is about people’ and that they would miss it if was no longer there. It’s that nugget of information that has helped Altrincham Unlimited, the BID for the town, to galvanise its stores, individual shop owners, businesses and the wider community to take steps to fight back.
Altrincham is a town that is working very hard, through its BID, to build and maintain its reputation, attract independent traders and provide entertainment and events to bring in shoppers and spenders.
Last year, SKV supported “Alty’s” campaign to win the title of England’s Favourite High Street. Now, the town has been selected as a pilot for a Government-backed National High Street Perfect Day campaign on May 17th this year. On the day retailers will be ensuring stores are clean and tidy, staff offer their best customer service, schoolchildren will be keeping the town tidy with a litter pick and a packed itinerary of entertainment is being planned which will keep visitors smiling. The council, local charities and community groups will be working together to show how Altrincham has reinvented itself as a thriving modern market town with a rich retail, recreational, residential and business mix. On display will be a gastronomic destination with an award-winning market at the heart of a vibrant food and drink offer. Retailers will also be telling visitors on May 17th about the investment in the public realm and the transport Interchange which make it a great place to visit for a day or evening out.
Death of the High Street? Definitely not where Altrincham is concerned.