High streets need a more strategic approach to survive, says Greenwich academic About the university

Dr Andres Coca-StefaniakTown and city centres need to offer much more than shopping to meet the expectations of modern consumers, the University of Greenwich and the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) argue in a new national report.

Dr Andres Coca-Stefaniak, of the University of Greenwich Business School has contributed a paper to a University of Southampton report.

The report, funded by the Economic Social Research Council, attributes the success of the £65 billion a year evening and night-time economy to hospitality professionals anticipating consumer trends and offering services focused on the customer experience.

Dr Coca-Stefaniak’s paper, Managing town centres during the crisis: from retail-focussed management to the experience economy and beyond, co-authored with Shanaaz Carroll, draws partly on his work with the ATCM to produce a Successful Town Centres DIY toolkit for key decision makers and local communities to identify the personality of their areas and position them strategically in line with their own identity rather than copying other places. This work was funded in 2013 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

He says: “Worryingly, many town centres are still anchored in the past. Consumers’ expectations of the high street today go well beyond filling their shopping basket – which they can do online anyway.

“People expect an experience. The management of town centres today is beginning to reflect this but it needs to adopt a more strategic approach to the experience economy. It needs to provide a mixed and compelling offer to attract local residents and visitors,”

Dr Coca-Stefaniak says town and city managers have to take advantage of good research and data as well as the new Town Centre Performance Framework, to offer people and their communities a tailored and locally relevant experience in what is now a 24hr society.

Shanaaz Carroll, CEO (Acting) of the ATCM says: “Evidence shows that strategic thought and inspirational town and city management can make a significant difference to economic performance, quality of life and the general perception of place.

“The challenge is to ensure that such management increasingly includes well-constructed partnerships that stretch further than just retail.

“They need to include all aspects of life that build meaningful and vital community hubs. They need to offer jobs, housing, educational resources for all ages and the chance to interact socially and celebrate being part of that community.”

A full copy of the report, Evolving High Streets: Resilience & Reinvention - Perspectives from Social Science, is available on the Future High Street Forum’s The Great British High Street website at http://thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk/. The Forum is a national organisation bringing government departments and local government representatives together with key retailers and town centre management organisations

Find out more about the Successful Town Centres DIY toolkit at https://www.atcm.org/policy_practice/tools_dir/Town_Centre_Personality_Test

Story by Public Relations