Beth Ward, a member of the Association of Town Centre Management, discusses the ways that her organization is helping towns and regions to halt the decline of their shopping streets. Markets, discount programs, crowdfunding and locally focused social media are among the tools that Ward's "town teams" point to as successful means to make town centers and high streets strong, stable and resilient.
"What our town centres can no longer rely on is yesterday's aspiration – being a clone town full of the same retailers offering the same products and solely relying on them alone," says Ward. "Towns of the future need to offer something different and attract customers to 'the experience'."
"They need to be the hub of the communities once more and change people's attitudes and perceptions. Yes, people will still want to shop in supermarkets and out-of-town shopping centres, but it doesn't mean that they can't use a mix of all three. In fact, many places have seen an increase in independents, stores, cafes and restaurants where clones once roamed."