In an age of booming online commerce, an Experian report recommends that shop owners market their stores as convenient locations for product pick up if they are to survive, or find alternative reasons for consumers to visit their store, like for socializing or other leisure activities.
At the same time, these town centers must cater for an ageing population, the report adds, since in 10 years’ time there will be three million more people in the UK over the age of 70.
As a result, retailers must provide the kind of facilities that will make older shoppers choose their stores like health services, and safe and accessible shopping areas.
James Miller from Experian calls the retailer dilemma, a balancing act, which shop owners must treat and be careful with.
On one end they must fulfill the modern need for convenience and value of those with increasingly limited resources and incomes, he says, noting however that it should not be to the detriment of quality and service sought by older and more affluent consumers.
At the same, Miller also recommends that retailers expand their presence online with the use of mobile commerce and social media. Adopting a “click and collect,” strategy that works in tandem with other ways of enriching the shopping experience, may be the way forward, he says.
Some Town Centers will have to make adjustments sooner than others as the report shows the East Midlands, the east, south-east and south-west of England having highest growth in their over-50 populations by 2020.
Specifically, Town Centers in Sleaford, Grantham and Swadlincote, in the East Midlands will have a high proportion of older consumers.
The East Midlands, the east, the north-west of England and Yorkshire and the Humber however, will have the greatest proportion of online shoppers by 2018.
Shoppers in these regions will come from hard-pressed and rural consumer groups that are looking for both the choice and value that online offers according to the report, which also gives details about three new consumer groups that will emerge with reduced disposable incomes; creating thriftier shoppers and heavily influencing the health of town centers.
These include, the “squashed bottom” – made up of hard-pressed singles and families, found largely in Yorkshire, the north-west and north-east of England.
The second group is comprised of struggling elderly singles and couples – particularly in Merthyr Tydfil, Treorchy and Abertillery in Wales, Motherwell, Irvine and Coatbridge in Scotland, and the north-east of England.
The report calls the third group, the “squeezed middle,” since it is made up of middle-to-lower income families, found primarily in Llanelli, Pontypool and Cwmbran in Wales, the East Midlands and the north-west of England.
The report was prepared in partnership with the Association of Town Centre Management.
Source: BBC News