The Future is Local

The Future is Local

As the (too-often) unsung heroes of British retail, local independent shop owners bring life and energy to High Streets across the country.

It’s not always easy to compete with the corporate giants of retail but, at Buy-From Britain, we see a change coming. We think the future is local.

The recent news that global brand Anthropologie are opting for a ‘neighbourhood’ store strategy in Britain speaks volumes about changing trends in shopping habits. Although Anthropologie is a huge brand, their new approach is to go small.

In shopping destinations away from major cities, they’re opening a number of smaller stores.

From their 18,700 sq ft store in Regent Street, London, to their new ‘neighbourhood’ branches, such as the 8,538 sq ft one in Tunbridge Wells, Anthropologie are changing, and so too are shoppers.

The convenience of online shopping is not only impacting independent stores, but it’s also posing challenges for chain stores with large flagships in cities. Major national and international retailers are being forced to reconsider how far (literally) consumers will go to buy the things they want.

With online shopping, there is less need for shoppers to travel to places like London to access the full range of products offered by shops: each purchase is available in their pocket.

Yet, although shoppers may be less inclined to travel for their shopping, that’s not to say the in-shop experience is less valued by consumers. British High Street stores have the opportunity to offer the person-to-person shopping experience which online stores lack.

Last week, Sky News’ Adam Parsons argued that the High Street isn’t dying, as commentators have been claiming for too long. Rather, it is facing a time of change, in which it needs to keep up with current shopping habits to stay relevant.

It’s important not to necessarily see changes in the High Street as negatives. Take the current abundance of High Street coffee shops as an example. There may not have been quite so many ten or fifteen years back, but they reflect what consumers want today – coffee, cake and catch ups.

In the same way that coffee shops appeal to customers as places of comfort and cosiness, small shops can offer similar atmospheres with attractive décor and a warm welcome from staff.

Along with their intimate atmospheres, local independent stores can stand out among big-brand competitors by selling products which are different, more personal, eco-friendlier, than the mass-produced lines in large-scale chain stores.

Green Options, a new shop in Shrewsbury, is the perfect example of this. Since their opening on 4 April, they’ve been selling zero-waste items which are hard to find elsewhere. Their range includes food, toiletries and lifestyle items without plastic packaging to address the UK’s high usage of single-use plastic.

Sam, who launched Green Options earlier this month with his partner Lillie, says, “We hope Shrewsbury is ready to join us in changing and challenging the way we shop and live.”

We hope people across the country are ready to join them too.

Anthropologie’s new approach signals an interest among consumers in local ‘neighbourhood’ shopping. For independent retailers such as Green Options, it’s an ideal time to be offering unique products to local buyers which aren’t available in large-scale chain stores, while providing an in-store experience which can’t be found online.

If we all embrace change and make an effort to support our wonderful independent sellers on the High Street, the future of local retail looks bright.

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