Reading the latest headlines, you’d be forgiven for thinking the high street was up a creek without a proverbial paddle. But I’m a stickler for getting both sides of the story – the full picture – so let’s just take a minute to rebalance all the doom and gloom with a little positivity, shall we? In fact, a lot.
Take Cornish success story Seasalt. Now firmly on the list of things associated with Cornwall along with Poldark, pirates and pasties, turnover has grown from £28m to £51m in the last three years alone.
As the news reported a bleak Christmas for some retailers, Seasalt was cracking open the bubbly as trade rose 39% online and 31% in store.
So what can we learn from this? Firstly, a full-price strategy can work – Seasalt delayed discounting until just before Christmas as there was plenty of demand for full-price products. Secondly, the company understands that digital and high street should be intertwined in today’s modern retail environment and so it’s invested in making customer experiences online and in-store as a seamless as possible.
And the good news doesn’t stop there. Boohoo, a major player in the youth fashion market, has been thriving while its main rival, ASOS has struggled, posting a profit warning in December. The secret of boohoo’s success? Avoiding stagnation. It tweaks its online offering continually, giving millennial shoppers what they want – great service, low prices, quick delivery and a buying experience that’s closely linked to social media channels. They’ve also been smart in opting for big, tactical promotions such as Black Friday rather than nibbling away at prices all year round.
Sometimes focusing on what you’re good at, rather than changing for change’s sake, is the best way forward and that’s exactly what’s happened at Fortnum & Mason. The great British brand has managed to stay successful and relevant by focusing on their core offering – quality products, exceptional customer service and a unique retail environment. 2018 saw the brand post double-digit growth across all channels.
Christmas sales are a key part of the retailer’s success and online accounted for 37% of its sales in the festive period… That’s a lot of fancy hampers.
F&M understands it represents a lifestyle as much as a store for many of its customers and it’s built on this by adding a swanky bar and restaurant at the new Royal Exchange store. This brand-strengthening eatery has been packed since it opened, showing they’re onto something pretty tasty – in more ways than one.
So there you go – a little ray of retail sunshine that proves investment in seamless customer experiences will be the saviour of our ever-evolving (but not dying) high street.
Now where’s my Poldark shirt…