Shopping: How the High street is fighting back - and how it might just win

Newspaper: Wakefield Express.
Story: Retail & business expert Kate Hardcastle visits The Ridings Shopping Centre to hold business workshops along with Welcome to Yorkshire.
Reporter: Gavin Murray.
Photographer: Andrew Bellis.
Photo date: 20/04/16
Picture Ref: AB166a0416

Newspaper: Wakefield Express. Story: Retail & business expert Kate Hardcastle visits The Ridings Shopping Centre to hold business workshops along with Welcome to Yorkshire. Reporter: Gavin Murray. Photographer: Andrew Bellis. Photo date: 20/04/16 Picture Ref: AB166a0416

As it gets easier and easier to buy what we need with just the click of a button, or a mouse, shoppers could be mistakenly believe that the high street maybe dying.

But one business woman is convinced that in the long term the high street can fight back and win.

Newspaper: Wakefield Express.
Story: Retail & business expert Kate Hardcastle visits The Ridings Shopping Centre to hold business workshops along with Welcome to Yorkshire.
Reporter: Gavin Murray.
Photographer: Andrew Bellis.
Photo date: 20/04/16
Picture Ref: AB166b0416

Newspaper: Wakefield Express. Story: Retail & business expert Kate Hardcastle visits The Ridings Shopping Centre to hold business workshops along with Welcome to Yorkshire. Reporter: Gavin Murray. Photographer: Andrew Bellis. Photo date: 20/04/16 Picture Ref: AB166b0416

Kate Hardcastle is helping thousands of businesses from around the country to keep growing and succeed in the digital age.

And , with 20 years experience, she says her approach has a 100 per cent rate.

She said: “Shops now feel that they have ‘no hope’, as everything can be bought online. But it is the shopping experience that people will want to buy into.”

Recent figures seem to back up her claim.

They showed that since the 1990s more than 70 per cent of consumers would rather pay for an experience than just simply buy online.

Mrs Hardcastle said what customers are looking for could be good customer service or just a friendly face to speak to.

She said: “People now make a day out of high street shopping. They go and pick their shopping up, and then go for lunch. They are more likely to pop into shops they have never been in during a day out, for the new experience”.

According to Mrs Hardcastle retail parks are currently winning the trade battle against high street shops due to there convenience,

But she feels that this won’t always be the case.

She said: “Obviously retail shopping is more convenient for people as they can pop by after work, not have to pay for parking and grab what they want.

“However, it doesn’t deliver an inspiring choice for the consumer, which is why I think that high street shopping may win the battle in the future.

“Just because people can make more of a day out, than just a trip to your local shop”.

“ I also think that smaller businesses do much better when they are working with each other in clusters.

“So many towns these days have well respected smaller businesses that more people are willing to take a trip to because of the experience that they get from going inside and talking to someone”

Mrs Hardcastle runs different seminars around the country to offer advice and help to people in business.

She recently held a workshop at the Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield.

During the seminar she spoke about how businesses, both large and small, can improve their overall reputation and how they should embrace the internet.

She said: “The online style of living has now forced thousands of small businesses to close down as consumers are more likely to order what they need off the internet.”

“It’s not just about opening your doors and selling your products. It’s about what you can offer to the customer, that somewhere else can’t.”

Businesses turning to her for advice at the seminar included Boots, Peace Hall and 80K hairdressers.

Mrs Hardcastle said: “Even though they are different stores, the advice is all the same. Building a respectable reputation for businesses.”

And during the workshop she showed how easy it is for businesses to improve their overall experience by providing friendly staff, good customer service and having ‘people that know what they are talking about’.

Mrs Hardcastle is a founding partner of the business scheme, ‘Insight with passion’, along with Richard Gomersall.

Through her scheme she offers a range of services to help transform and rejuvenate businesses, by offering a pair of fresh eyes as well as her expertise in the sector.

She said: “It has a 100 per cent success rate due to our policy.

“We don’t start a journey with a client, if they aren’t certain of the direction they want to go.

“We only help the businesses that have a clear vision of what they want to achieve. We turn down hundreds of clients just because they don’t have a clue what they want.”

Mrs Hardcastle, feels that small businesses can easily operate if they focus more on the experience, “consumers these days will be more likely to go to a small retailer if they gain a good experience with them.

“That’s the only way they can survive.”

“The scheme can help in many ways, including helping businesses focus more on the customer and their attitude towards them.”

However, she is also aware of about how the advancement of online shopping has affected big chain stores as well.

She said: “It’s crucial that shops focus on what the consumer isn’t getting from shopping online, and the reason why they are going into store, which is experience.

“We have been working with so many different businesses to try and help them gain a reputation and become noticed.”

The scheme, have helped a number of different businesses including, the Co-operative, Willis and Gambier and Gordon Brothers Europe.