High business rates, slowing consumer spending, online shopping etc. the difficulties facing retailers appear to be ever present and continually increasing with no silver bullet in sight. Despite the difficulties however there are some shining lights, both big and small with success stories to be found where retailers have adapted to the current market and their surroundings and made a bold use of the space available to them.
Location and Collaboration
It’s an uphill struggle to sell sausages at a vegan market and yet without adapting to their surroundings retailers can find themselves in such an environment. Whilst it’s very difficult to control many external factors by adapting and collaborating with other operators renewed life can be breathed into the high street, with numerous examples in towns from Altrincham to York showing the way. Co-ordinating opening times (9 to 5 is no longer the norm), providing complimentary offerings and investing in initiatives such as an on street market, clean ups and safety campaigns and reducing noise have all been shown to reinvigorate previously struggling areas.
Using Your Space
Maximising the space available in any unit is also crucial to success. With the move to online shopping increasing many retailers, both large and small, are using their space to showcase products and also providing parcel collection and returns facilities. Additionally, sharing their space with complimentary offerings can also bring rewards, for example the bank, beauty salon or bookshop sharing space with a coffee outlet or post office counter. So in terms of the bricks and mortar limitations on an individual retailer what physical steps can they take to improve their offering? As a Tenant Step 1 is to check what is permitted in your Lease. Does the Lease permit sharing with a third party? Does it allow the tenant to knock down a wall to provide an open plan space? Whilst many leases are restrictive the struggle to attract and retain Tenants has meant that Landlords have had to become less restrictive and more flexible. In the current market Tenants can be bolder with their requirements and seek the necessary provisions that will provide the opportunity to adapt, including asking for and winning variations to existing leases that enable them to react to opportunities, and we are increasingly seeing that this is an approach Landlord’s are responsive to.
Pathway to Success
Whilst there is no easy pathway to establishing a successful retail business there are steps that can be taken to provide the opportunity to succeed, these include knowing your market, working with others and ensuring your lease works for you rather than against you.