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Cities and town centres declining: Challenges and opportunities for businesses

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Glasgow, one of the premier shopping destinations in Scotland, is facing significant challenges that threaten its vibrancy and economic vitality. These same challenges are affecting businesses across not only Scotland but the UK generally.

A recent report by the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce highlights a decline of over 400,000 visitors to Glasgow city centre compared to the previous year, coupled with a substantial drop in retail sales.

Challenges facing cities and towns

The report highlights several factors that are contributing to Glasgow’s, and other cities and towns’, current predicament:

  • Declining Footfall: A decrease in visitors and drops in in-store sales reflect shifting consumer behaviours towards online shopping and out-of-town retail parks.

 

  • Retail Closures: Iconic stores, including Debenhams and Marks & Spencer, have closed their doors in many places, leaving significant vacancies that impact the city or town’s attractiveness to shoppers.

 

  • Infrastructure Issues: Cleanliness and maintenance issues in some places further detract from the appeal of shopping in city or town centres.

 

What can you do?

A report such as this likely only confirms what you’re seeing day-to-day. What can you do to navigate these challenges proactively and safeguard your business?

Here are three practical steps you could consider:


Enhance Customer Experience:

It may be time to focus further on your online presence. If your website is simply a ‘brochure’ of your services, could you turn it into an e-commerce site so that you can capture shoppers who now prefer digital transactions? E-commerce platforms are now well-developed and can help you provide a robust and secure experience to your customers.

It is no longer enough to simply supply products that can be just as easily purchased from home. Look at how you could improve the ‘in-store’ experience to give your shoppers a compelling reason to visit a physical store or business. Cleanliness, ambience, and customer service are all areas that will need looking at.

Adapt to Changing Consumer Habits:

If consumer habits are changing, could you explore new product lines or services that cater to these preferences and changes in lifestyle?

There may be mileage too in looking at whether you can integrate your offline and online business in a way that provides a more seamless shopping experience. For instance, do people want to be able to see a sample of products in the flesh that they can then have delivered to their home?


Community Engagement and Branding:

Many consumers want to support local businesses and are willing to pay extra to do so. Local partnership with community organisations and other local businesses could help you to build a sense of community that encourages local patronage.

In line with many cities and towns, Glasgow faces formidable challenges, however there are clear opportunities for businesses to continue to thrive and contribute to the revival of their city or town centre.

As experienced business advisers we can help you to review your business activity and provide insight on trends. If we could help you, please get in touch, we would be happy to help you!

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