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The return of the local high street

The return of the local high street

For years, most of us have felt detached from our big, bustling high streets. Big brands taking centre stage, with a periphery of bargain stores propping at the sides. But, now… have things changed? And is it too late for the high street bounce back?

With online retail sales up a staggering 50% from 2019 (growing 5 years ahead of its time) we ask ourselves, what role does the high street play in our lives? Do we still need it? What benefit does it offer and why should we return?

I, like many of us now, am working from home, and often think to myself, when will I return to the big city? What does it have to offer for me?

Unlike the UK high streets, many of our European friends have had this nailed for decades. Beautifully maintained towns and villages with stores and attractions that work side by side. Wine shops where the dust and bottles are almost as ancient as their owners, yet we rummage with wonder and excitement. Concept stores that engage as well as invite. Hand crafted local products paired with the best the big cities have to offer. Experiential shopping that works.

So where are we today here in the UK? Is this the end of the high street for good or the rebirth of something new, something better?

As many of us de-centralise from the big cities, the role of our local high streets have become a vital life-line to some sort of normality with many of us bidding for an escape from our desktops whenever we can.

As much as I’ve witnessed the closure of the few, I have equally witnessed the launching of many. With several local high streets witnessing a boom in footfall and trade. Have the tides turned? And if so who are the winners?

Surprisingly there are many; the butcher, the baker and even the independent candlestick maker. The return to local high streets has been an impressive revival and may continue if the offering is right and the experience is right too.

I visited a new local cafe/deli recently - one of my usual weekly trips out and asked the owner how business was, “relentless” he replied with a smile. Their well considered store has great produce, good service but is also happy to be local. We’re not talking 5 star here but they do the basics very well and because of that their tills haven’t stopped ringing since March 2020.

So can the high street survive? Personally I think it can. There are still mitigating factors such as rents and rates, but if the guidance is there, if the passion is there, then maybe there’s just a chance.

This is the time for change. Local, sustainable and quality - all values that we at believe in. We may be only online for now, but who knows what the future may bring. Good Liverpool may find itself at a high street close to you.

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