No-one can miss the increasing number of empty, shuttered-up shops on our High Streets. Even here in Harrogate- a town previously renowned as being ‘recession proof’ we have the largest number of empty shops around town that I have seen since moving here 12 years ago, with both Independent and household name businesses closing.
Are people spending less on the High Street and more online?
Are business rents and rates too high for the smaller independent shops to afford?
Are parking costs putting people off, driving people to drive to out-of-town shopping malls where parking is free?
Here at Chiggs we practice what we preach, and really try to shop at our local independent retailers- buying meat from the butcher; fruit and veg from an excellent, knowledgeable greengrocers right in the centre of Harrogate; cards and presents from the gorgeous Magpie Greetings (where Baby Feed Wheels and Get Well Wheels are also available!); and last December we held Holly’s birthday party at Pots 2 Go ceramic cafe in town (also a Chiggs stockist!)
Various initiatives have been started to try to help independent businesses. Mary Portas was appointed by the Government to lead a review into the future of Britain’s high streets (as mentioned previously on the Chiggs blog )- her recommendations generated many column inches in the newspapers- and the annual Independent Retailer Month will again be running throughout the month of July.
Pop-up shops have also started, well, popping up- taking over empty retail units on short term leases. While providing some rent for the landlord and filling an empty shop, albeit temporarily, pop up shops also give entrepreneurs an opportunity to try out their business model without a huge outlay and tying themselves into the financial commitment of a long lease agreement.
Pop Up Britain (part of Start Up Britain) has recently opened a flagship pop-up shop on London’s famous King’s Road. The outlet will offer short-term opportunities to start-ups and micro businesses from all over the country over a 12 month period. The fabulous news is that Chiggs stockist Hello Baby Gifts has been selected from over 800 applicants to have a shop, and will be taking their gorgeous baby gifts, hampers and nappy cakes (and of course Baby Feed Wheels!) to Kings’ Road in the first 2 weeks of August.