9 ways that the high street and small biz are being killed

killing the High StreetSupermarkets often get the blame for killing our high streets. But are they really to blame and if so are they the only reason? When I asked consumers what they thought was killing the high street and independent businesses, supermarkets weren’t top of the list.

1) People recognised high rents and rates as significant factors. Council rates can be so high that independent shops can’t afford to pay so independent businesses have to rely on Internet sales when they might well benefit from a presence on the high street as would shoppers.

2) Amazon. There’s  big killer for you. Businesses have to adapt and as they say it’s dog eat dog. A company receiving a lot of bad press recently about how they treat staff. Appallingly. Ridiculous targets etc. All helps keep prices low. Well the small businesses would like Amazon to treat their staff better and put the prices of stock back up to where they should be. Nowadays you have to sell your stuff there or not sell much at all. The upshot of this, particularly for books is that Amazon buy your products at a hugely discounted price they then undercut you so you are stuck with either reducing your prices to match or losing sales to Amazon which can afford to take really small margins. Small businesses are really hit by that because they are in a lose lose situation. Don’t go on Amazon lose sales, go on Amazon don’t make so many sales trough their own outlets.

3) Internet shopping. Nuff said

4) Large supermarkets out of towns mean that people go to the supermarket and do a big shop getting more groceries, but aren’t supermarkets saying that actually it’s the smaller convenience stores that are being used more? If so perhaps they are helping our towns? Although of course at the cost of the smaller independent shops. I read a while back about people complaining about a new Tesco store opening up in their town. A local grocer was complaining that it would take away business. What I found interesting though was a response from someone to his comment on the site. The comment was aimed at the complainer. The man said that his mother had opened a local florist many years ago, had built it up, was very proud of it and then this grocer started to do flowers and put her out of business. He had no sympathy for this grocer. Just goes to show that any one business is able to take advantage and put people out of business it’s just here that because it is a big chain that it gets more coverage? Not that I am sticking up for supermarkets (er obviously given this!) but there’s more to it than just putting your local grocer out of business.

5) Parking. Lack of it or cost. Councils making people pay to stay even a short time on the high street. That puts people off. (Although see here for appealing tickets and don’t forget you have ten minutes grace now!)

6) Apathy. People don’t care about supporting local businesses if they can save time and money elsewhere.

7) Lack of creativity. The few independent bookshops that have managed to survive (and seriously well done to them) have done so by branching out and selling other things such as craft from independent sellers and proving tea and coffee whilst you browse.

8) Opening hours. People are so busy these days they needs shops opening before 9.00am and after 5.30pm Big shopping malls take this business when people do it all in one go after work or on a Sunday.

9) Cafes, yes we want some but not every other shop!

So what to do?
A lot comes down to people supporting local businesses. That includes buying direct from the business and not through Amazon, but realistically this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Consumers can look around though on other sites such as Facebook groups and find people selling on there. Supporting the self employed in this way can make all the difference to someone starting out.

Businesses on the local high street need to look at being creative and asking customers what they would like to see and be ready to change regularly.

Councils clearly need to reduce rents and rates if we are to see some innovation and unique shops back on our high streets. They need to limit the number of one type of shop on the high street to bring some variety.

SUPERMARKETS’ ‘MOST ANNOYING’ HABITS REVEALED

In the press today was an article to which I contributed about consumers pet hate regarding supermarkets. (Regular followers of this blog will know my history with Tesco!) It was actually about the tactics that supermarkets use to make us spend more so I have added a few more gripes too!

1) Moving products around so you spend longer in the store trying to find what you want
2) Lowest priced option often at the highest point so shorter people can’t reach
3) Online or in store exclusives. Creates a sense of immediacy when selecting products, so consumers will usually spend more than intended as feeling of missing out
4) Bumping the price up for an individual item e.g. £2.50, and offering them two for £4. When item is less than £2 elsewhere
5) Putting differing offers on variations of a product to confuse as to which is best buy
6) Mixing weight to price ratios on different products
7) Making it difficult to work out the best offer frequently with ready packaged fruit/veg portrayed as having discounts versus loose.
8) Offers such as 3 for £10 when you only wanted 1
9) Pumping out the smell of bread baking (Our Sainsbury’s does that!)
10) Slow music to make you move slower round the aisles
11) Loyalty cards using your shopping habits to provide targeted vouchers
12) High sugar higher priced brands items at eye level lowering this for aisles aimed at children
13) Putting deals at the entrance of the store such as biscuits – not very expensive items but ones that appeal and that you think that’s a good offer and throw them in the trolley
14) Putting fruit, vegetables and flowers at the front of the store. We know this is to create an atmosphere of health and also provide smells and pleasant imagery providing positive vibes to make us buy more. Annoying because these are the items that we want to put on top of the shopping not at the bottom where it is going to get crushed.
15) If you only want the essentials, such as bread, milk, fruit and vegetables they are placed as far away from each other as possible to make you travel round the store.
16) My big bug bear. Wine. So many bottles costed “normally” priced at £10 but frequently in the half price offers and often half price with 25% off 6 bottles or more. We wait until these regular offers come about. If we shop in more than one supermarket then the supermarket with the deal is going to get the most sales.
17) Packaging. Is that “Tesco finest” Sainsbury’s “Taste the difference” really better? In many tests and reviews this isn’t the case but are we conned into spending more because we are sucked into thinking they are better quality.
18) Self service checkouts (see a post about THEM here!) because they always go wrong and it isn’t self service it’s one sales assistant serving many customers
19) Queues!
20) Discontinuing products

We want consistency and fair pricing, everyone loves a bargain but not when the “bargains” are all the time so we actually feel that the rest of the time we are being conned!

We know that most of this goes on but unfortunately we can not do much about a lot of it. And the trouble is if we try and avoid it all, we spend even longer in there! Don’t go hungry and try and keep to your list are a good starting point though.

I was on Radio 5live Breakfast (and Radio Nottingham!)

 

What other things are your gripes about supermarkets and which is your top one?!