DIB backs BID

Downtown in Business are delighted to partner with Liverpool BID Company, to host a series of events.

The first in the series of events, ‘Retail Therapy’ was held on Wednesday 6 June at The Chancery, Paradise St. The exclusive morning event was hosted to encourage businesses and retailers to group together and take part in talks regarding the retail contribution in the city. The panel discussed the challenges retailers face and most importantly, what could businesses do to support, maintain and further the momentum of Liverpool’s retail economy.

Against a backdrop of competition from global and national giants such as Amazon and ASOS, continuously increased parking costs & other major overheads including rent, combined with out-of-town trade, Liverpool’s retail community has plenty of obstacles to tackle.

Members of the discussion concluded that retailers are not the community they used to be. Panellist Kate Cox spoke of other UK wide retail zones as being experiential areas, with hope to encourage Liverpool’s retail community to grow confidence to engage with more day to day events in the city. Not only monthly or annually, but on a daily & weekly basis. Attendees agreed that there is a need for ‘foot soldiers’ on the ground to engage the retailers appropriately.

Conversation around the table burst with ideas whilst maintaining appreciation that the retail business is fluid, tough and works at a great pace, gone are the days where stock was delivered only once a week to a store.

One member of the discussion highlighted that social media could be used more efficiently and should be taken greater advantage of, after all observations are often made naming Liverpool a ‘style capital’ with one member of the discussion calling for Liverpool to be the number one shopping destination outside of London.

Role reversal trends were highlighted, as we now witness online retailers opening stores because of the success they have had via social media & blogging, not the other way around. Liverpool should aspire to be proactive & win online retailers, inspiring venders to open up shop here in the city centre. The community was urged to feel passionate about gaining the best new designers & brands, in order to be the number one destination. On conclusion, there is no question that online shopping has a big impact on the retailers.

Panellist Paul Holmes, Boodles talked of the importance of visual merchandising values which provide customers with a ideally different shopping experience and Chair, David Wade-Smith emphasised that we do already have several stores within the city that are seen as a ‘destination’ (e.g LFC, EFC, Beatles) – is this advantageous and something that could be encouraged and built on?

Whilst discussing the difficulties that Liverpool retailers face in 2018, challenges such as skills was a prominent topic. Questions were raised as to whether we are effectively gaining the right skills in the industry? How can this be improved?

Hotels were also raised by a panel member – they questioned if we have the right offer in the city, when identifying the lack of 5* hotels. Would the retail industry bloom if matched with more lavish hospitality destinations?

All in all, an exciting & robust discussion held with high hopes for the future of retail.

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