June 23, 2022

Footloose

As the weather and rail strikes impact footfall, some retail brands are diversifying

It’s been a typical week in the life of people in the U.K. On the one hand, the heatwave brought great weather, barbeques and positivity, with a 4% rise in high street footfall to boot.1

But then the weather broke, dropping 10 degrees, and we’ve fallen into a week chock-full of rail strikes, with footfall across all UK high streets being down 8.5% compared to last week, with London hit particularly hard.2

According to research from Springboard, footfall on Tuesday in Central London was a massive 27% lower than last Tuesday, and in city centres outside of the capital, footfall was 11.2% lower.2

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard said:

“The impact of train and tube strikes today on footfall is very clear to see, with a large proportion of people clearly working from home.”

And with a further two days of strikes ahead this week and knock-on disruption in all the in-between days, high street retailers are likely to really feel the effects on business this week.

But off the back of the challenges the sector has faced across the past 2+ years, some brands already have a plan and are getting ahead of the game. 

Primark is one such brand, as they are finally making a move to online commerce, with the launch of a click-and-collect trial on their (up until now) non-transactional website.

They will begin to offer click-and-collect on children’s products towards the end of the year from up to 25 stores in the northwest of England.3

Primark have reasons to be cheerful, in the UK at least, as they said trading was “much improved” with like-for-likes just 4% down on pre-Covid levels, while total sales were up 2%.3

John Lewis is another brand seeking to diversify its revenue streams following the pandemic, with the announcement that Bromley, West Ealing and Reading will be the first three locations for its plan to create 10,000 ‘built-to-rent’ homes in the UK.4

They plan to build homes suitable for households of different sizes and available for short and long-term rents, and the developments will include shared roof gardens and fitness studios, with tenants given the option to have their homes furnished by John Lewis.

Nina Bhatia, Executive Director for Strategy and Commercial Development at the John Lewis Partnership, said 4:

“Helping to create homes has always been at the heart of what we do and we now have a unique opportunity to use our expertise and skills in new ways to deliver much-needed new housing.”

MUSIC FOR BROWSING, FOR BUYING, FOR SALES AND SPLURGES, FOR BAGS AND BASKETS AND BUY BUY MISS AMERICAN PIE.

There’s no doubt times are still challenging, but what could be key to the future of physical retail stores?

Startle Account Director, Chris Turner, has a clear vision:

“Store takeovers to launch products are the future of retail. Everything working in unison, a full integration of digital screens, sound, lighting and getting your hands on physical products. I can foresee music artists partnering with brands to help launch the latest product in store. Imagine the lights going down and the music starting up as the artist starts to perform for what would be a captivating experience that will really enhance brand equity and, not to forget, sales.”

That’s our kind of vision. And certainly something that would be a great customer experience.

But what do we mean by a great customer experience exactly? For your own brand and business, picture interactive screens that empower customers to creatively engage with products and capture imaginations, whilst your atmosphere responsively adapts throughout the day based on your business needs minute to minute. Increase dwell, drive spend, nudge repeat custom…

It’s all possible with Startle.

Why not download for free (and with very little effort) our retail brochure?

And if you think we can help, we’d love to hear from you. Call us on +44 (0)203 397 7676 or drop us an email at hello@startlemusic.com.

References:

1The Industry.Fashion; ‘Heatwave boosts UK footfall until "Fiery Friday”’. 20th June 2022. https://www.theindustry.fashion/heatwave-boosts-uk-footfall-until-fiery-friday/

2Fashion Network; ‘First day of national rail strike puts huge dent in UK retail footfall’. 21st June 2022. https://uk.fashionnetwork.com/news/First-day-of-national-rail-strike-puts-huge-dent-in-uk-retail-footfall,1416884.html

3Retail Gazette; ‘Primark to finally sell online with click-and-collect trial’. 20th June 2022. https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2022/06/primark-to-finally-sell-online-with-click-and-collect-trial/

4REvening Standard; ‘John Lewis reveals its first new-build rental homes sites to be Bromley, West Ealing and Reading’. 9th June 2022. https://www.standard.co.uk/homesandproperty/property-news/john-lewis-reveals-locations-rental-homes-bromley-west-ealing-reading-b1005095.html

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