Think before you Click – Support Your Local Shops

The High Street is changing and will continue to evolve. It has changed because of the way we – as customers – shop. Fact.  That seems to be the price of progress in terms of technology  – the internet, smart phones and social media – all playing their part in what we see and what we buy.  We’ve changed our habits so much that it means the traditional High Street is under threat … or is it?

Kirkcaldy – partly due to the length of our High Street – appears to have suffered more than many, but Kirkcaldy is not alone: it is a problem that’s having an impact right across the country. Gone are the days when big, multi-nationals make up the majority of every major High Street. Businesses pull out and close for many reasons …

  • Some have been so successful with their online offering that they’ve taken the decision to close stores because the online business is so much more profitable – and customers no longer need to visit their High Street stores.
  • By contrast, others have not been successful online and have folded with job losses and shop closures.
  • A number have consolidated property portfolios – worked out which shops are doing well versus those that are not being supported. Store closures are the inevitable result.

We know some major chains now make around 10-15% of their money on what are seen as traditional high streets. Their shift is expected and understandable. Think about it: if you’re running a business, you’d be doing the same.  Businesses don’t survive on goodwill.

We share content every day of the week from Kirkcaldy – across this Blog, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We see the chat – all of it.

It is very interesting that when we share posts about ‘shopping local’ – we always (always!) get negative swipes: its the businesses’ fault, its the council’s fault, its the Government’s fault …

Who is to blame?

Have you ever stopped and thought why the High Street is changing and how our own shopping habits affect it? Is it really all the businesses’ fault … or the council’s … or the government’s? Is it not partly due to us? It’s a bit like voting: if you don’t vote in elections, you really have no right to moan about the result!  If you don’t shop in your local town and support those who are investing in it – can you really complain about store closures?

We have a choice …

It comes down to choice – and we totally understand it. We’re not angels. We also shop online – and in other places too. That’s human nature. But don’t blame Kirkcaldy if you’re not prepared to support the town.

Still a skeptic?

Kirkcaldy has a huge amount to offer and it deserves to be celebrated and supported. Here’s just a few reasons why people shop in our town …

  • Real Shopping – in a physical shop: see, touch and feel the goods as well as enjoy personal face-t0-face service … humans rather than machines! And if it’s a gift, you know what you’ve bought – you can see and feel the quality.
  • Independent Businesses – offering something different from traditional multiples … much more personal & individual.  And we know they go the extra mile to order something in if they haven’t got it in stock.
  • Loyal Nationals – there are still national stores committed to the town: support them. They’re multiple businesses – employing local folk.
  • Get it ‘there and then’ – online is fine for some, but we all know it can be a right faff! Sorting the re-packaging of stuff that’s not right – getting it to the post office to return things that are the wrong size. It can be a pain. Shopping in town is in real time.
  • Face to Face, Personal Service – for many, this is the biggest reason to #ShopLocal: the TV ad run by Visa over Christmas hit the nail on the head. How nice is it to go back into a shop regularly – you’re often known by your name and you know the shop’s staff. Humans need the human touch. We’re much nicer than just staring at screens all day!
  • Cafes & Restaurants – Kirkcaldy has more than 100 places to eat and drink: three vegan outlets have opened in the last 18 months, attracting customers from far and wide who share their stories with friends and family. The ripple effect makes a big difference.
  • Sport & Leisure – there’s so much! Golf clubs, a thriving Rugby Club, Raith Rovers, Fife Flyers and Ice Rink, the Adam Smith Theatre & Kirkcaldy Galleries, the Coastal Path … fantastic community facilities attracting people to the town.
  • Cutting Waste – more and more folk are becoming aware of waste, especially plastics. Online shopping is one of the worst culprits. So always think before you click: can you buy it locally? Can you pitch up to buy things using your own carriers, bags and containers? It all helps.
  • Creating Jobs – the more we spend in our own town, the more the money will be invested locally. That creates jobs, improves demand for housing and has a huge knock-on effect to the benefit of our local economy.

Finally, you can buy everything you need. If anyone tells us we have no shops – or there’s no where to buy anything – we always challenge them and ask what they need … we tell them we’ll help them find it. No one ever comes back to us! It is easy to criticise. It is far harder to do something positive.

In for a penny …

We know this is not always about the customer. Shops, cafes, restaurants and every business need to move with the times too – and make sure they’re offering customers what they want, when they want it – with a smile and not a frown!

We can all think of places we’ve been where we won’t return because we’ve felt let down by the experience. The same applies to online. It works both ways. Businesses that don’t change with the times will lose customers and disappear. Good businesses who embrace change and give their customers what they want will survive and thrive. So it should be seen as a partnership: the shops provide what customers need and want – with good service – and customers continue to support them by visiting regularly as well as by all-important recommendation. We see that day-in, day-out on social media – family and friends recommending places to people. For every negative, there are more than a dozen positives.

If we don’t use our towns, we will lose them. Next time you’re thinking of buying something online – Think before You Click.  Is the business local? If not, can I get what I want closer to home? And if you don’t know what the shops are selling in Kirkcaldy, come and take a look. Walk the town, enjoy the Waterfront – take time out to explore and rediscover Kirkcaldy. And if you’re still stuck – message us. We’re here to help.

Finally, we know there’s a lot of work to do. Kirkcaldy4All is working with many partners and stakeholders in the town – in both the public and private sectors. There’s a need for regeneration work, public realm improvements and much more. They are all pieces in a jigsaw – and we’re doing what we can with the pieces we have to play our part.

Thanks for reading!