Mike Vickers' Blog

March 18, 2011

Shopper Habits

Filed under: Linlithgow Business Association, West Lothian Coffee Morning — derryvickers @ 9:05 pm
We had an interesting discussion this morning at the West Lothian Coffee Morning on shoppers’ habits.

Despite encouragement from the public authorities, the customers are no longer making for the High Street.   Views put forward were that High Street shops are no longer attractive, there is no easy access or free parking, and there is no opportunity to inspect the goods before purchase.  More telling, shop keepers are too committed to make a sale that they are unfriendly to the customer; in contrast staff in supermarkets come over as much more friendly because they are not involved in the commercial success of the enterprise.

High Street shops are not open on Sundays; they loose out not only to supermarkets but also to retail parks.  Retail parks in particular meet the growing need for social shopping – ‘what shall we do today (Sunday) Oh lets go to the New Town retail park’; such parks have filled the vacuum left by not going to church.

Supermarkets and Retail Parks have only arisen because of the ubiquity of the motor car – customers shop for a week or longer and pile it all into the car boot.  Supermarkets and retail parks have been able to cash in on cheap ‘Out of Town’ land and have been able to take advantage of the fact that customers will do anything to avoid paying for parking.

But all this is changing; customers are increasingly buying on-line, already major book sellers such as Borders who were well represented in retail parks have been driven out of business by such as Amazon and Amazon have long expanded their offerings to all types of goods.  Supermarkets such as Tesco’s have recognised the danger and offer to buy on-line.  But the downside of on-line purchaese is that the customer cannot look and feel the goods before purchase.

So it could be that we have gone full circle where there is a High Street shopping opportunity for quality goods that the customer can view, touch and savour and not necessarily buy on first acquaintance.  But this requires that High Street shop keepers need to recognise that customer cultivation is everything with a friendly face, a coffee area, extended hours and Sunday opening and above all don’t force the goods down the customers throats.  The pubs do its so why not the High Street shops, shop keepers need to take a leaf out of the shops at ski resorts .

Thanks again to my colleagues at the West Lothain Coffee Morning for the thought provoking discussion.  Why not come and join us every Friday from 8am at O’Briens, The Wintergarden, The Centre, Livingston.

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