'It doesn't cost fortune to attract shoppers to the High Street', says shopping boss

First published in News

A SHOPPING boss says more needs to be done in the town centre to stop shoppers using the internet to buy their goods.

Derek Ashbee, centre manager at Culver Square shopping centre, in Colchester, said it is worrying the town’s shoppers are the third most likely to shop online in the country.

“We need to be aware that people are turning to the online side of things,” Mr Ashbee said.

“We need to make the shopper feel special and give them something different to what they can get online. We need to make they feel valued and give them a shopping experience.

“That means keeping our town clean, tidy - doing the basics really. Not everything costs a fortune.”

Figures released by Royal Mail on Tuesday showed Colchester shoppers were only behind counterparts in Chelmsford and Lincoln.

Comments (9)

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10:40am Thu 22 Nov 12

Cleggeron says...

It's hard for retailers at the moment, but the sad fact is that many of them won't be here in ten years, maybe five. Thanks to online shopping, the high street model is, in most cases, bust. When I can buy everything from light bulbs to Lamborghinis from the comfort of my own home, and get them delivered the next day for less than they'd cost in a shop, why would I want to spend time and money getting to a town centre in the hope that I can find what I want?
I'm not a fan of shopping - and there are plenty like me who are not looking for a "shopping experience" – and nothing anybody does to Colchester, or anywhere else, for that matter, will alter that.
Most shops will go the way of phone boxes, typewriters, bank branches, encyclopedias and classified ads in the back of newspapers because of the internet. We still want the products - and we'll still buy them - but we won't get them from the high street.
It's hard for retailers at the moment, but the sad fact is that many of them won't be here in ten years, maybe five. Thanks to online shopping, the high street model is, in most cases, bust. When I can buy everything from light bulbs to Lamborghinis from the comfort of my own home, and get them delivered the next day for less than they'd cost in a shop, why would I want to spend time and money getting to a town centre in the hope that I can find what I want? I'm not a fan of shopping - and there are plenty like me who are not looking for a "shopping experience" – and nothing anybody does to Colchester, or anywhere else, for that matter, will alter that. Most shops will go the way of phone boxes, typewriters, bank branches, encyclopedias and classified ads in the back of newspapers because of the internet. We still want the products - and we'll still buy them - but we won't get them from the high street. Cleggeron
  • Score: 0

10:40am Thu 22 Nov 12

Smouldering Ewok says...

A coalition government.
Biggest recession since the 30's.
Industry sectors ignored by government and failing.
Rise in unemployment.
Failing economy.
High fuel prices.
High inflation.
Ridiculous car parking fees.
Bad town planning.
Extortionate shop rental prices.
Poor allocation of town funds.
E.C.C. (I dont have to say anything here really.)

These are some other reasons Mr. Ashbee why our town is suffering, so it's no wonder people are shopping for the cheapest deals is it.
Wake up!
A coalition government. Biggest recession since the 30's. Industry sectors ignored by government and failing. Rise in unemployment. Failing economy. High fuel prices. High inflation. Ridiculous car parking fees. Bad town planning. Extortionate shop rental prices. Poor allocation of town funds. E.C.C. (I dont have to say anything here really.) These are some other reasons Mr. Ashbee why our town is suffering, so it's no wonder people are shopping for the cheapest deals is it. Wake up! Smouldering Ewok
  • Score: 0

11:23am Thu 22 Nov 12

Douglas Park says...

You can no more stop shoppers buying online than you can make everyone give up cars and return to horse & cart. It's progress, a fact of life and it's worrying that Centre Managers like Mr Ashbee can't reconcile to that fact.

Colchester town centre is relatively clean and tidy - there are plenty of rubbish bins, if folks choose not to use them then they need to be fined and not have someone go around cleaning up after them.

What retailers need to do is to find new ways of interacting with customers and offer goods and services that don't always lend themselves to online shopping.

The town centre is always packed on Saturdays - less so on Sunday when I suspect more people go out of town, and even on the rare occasion I pop into town of a weekday, it doesn't seem dead.

Cleggeron is right - there are lots of people who don't get that "buzz" from shopping and who find it easier to order exactly what they want online and get it delivered. But there will always be folks who do get the buzz from shopping and who enjoy browsing the shops for things to buy. That's where the retailers need to focus.
You can no more stop shoppers buying online than you can make everyone give up cars and return to horse & cart. It's progress, a fact of life and it's worrying that Centre Managers like Mr Ashbee can't reconcile to that fact. Colchester town centre is relatively clean and tidy - there are plenty of rubbish bins, if folks choose not to use them then they need to be fined and not have someone go around cleaning up after them. What retailers need to do is to find new ways of interacting with customers and offer goods and services that don't always lend themselves to online shopping. The town centre is always packed on Saturdays - less so on Sunday when I suspect more people go out of town, and even on the rare occasion I pop into town of a weekday, it doesn't seem dead. Cleggeron is right - there are lots of people who don't get that "buzz" from shopping and who find it easier to order exactly what they want online and get it delivered. But there will always be folks who do get the buzz from shopping and who enjoy browsing the shops for things to buy. That's where the retailers need to focus. Douglas Park
  • Score: 0

11:31am Thu 22 Nov 12

romantic says...

Both of the above are true, and also earlier comments on this issue. A lot of things are cheaper on the retailers´own websites than in store, so people will tend to have a look at the item in the shop, then go home and order it. Unless there are things in house which cannot be found on the Internet, I´m not sure how they can get around that issue.

Colchester used to be famous for its bookshops, but there are less and less as people use Amazon etc. I love browsing in bookshops, but browsing doesn´t pay the overheads. That story must be true for many other shops. The Internet means a bigger choice, and that you can check at your own pace. The danger is that this concentrates the sales with a few big players. I look at quite a few of the shops in town now, and do wonder how they stay in business.

Like cleggeron, I have no real interest in the "shopping experience". If I do go into town, it will be for specific things, and I try to get in and out as fast as possible. I guess we´re not the ideal shoppers, but we do still buy stuff.

If there is a model for the future of the town centre, it is likely to involve things that can´t be done on the Internet - ie things for which you actually need to physically be there. Hence the growing numbers of hairdressers, nail bars, tattoo places.

A properly functioning park and ride service will help, so long as people know they can get in and out of town quickly. We need more than one: minimum of 3 are needed, and they need to be cheaper than parking in town. Some shops have a thing where you can buy stuff and they will deliver to your home. If that´s done for free or at low cost, that could help. Rather than each shop running its own delivery service, they could combine together so that all your stuff gets collected together at a cantral point, and is then delivered in one go.

It´s going to be tough for the town centre in the coming years, and people become more Internet savvy each year, so they will need to adapt to this or fade away.
Both of the above are true, and also earlier comments on this issue. A lot of things are cheaper on the retailers´own websites than in store, so people will tend to have a look at the item in the shop, then go home and order it. Unless there are things in house which cannot be found on the Internet, I´m not sure how they can get around that issue. Colchester used to be famous for its bookshops, but there are less and less as people use Amazon etc. I love browsing in bookshops, but browsing doesn´t pay the overheads. That story must be true for many other shops. The Internet means a bigger choice, and that you can check at your own pace. The danger is that this concentrates the sales with a few big players. I look at quite a few of the shops in town now, and do wonder how they stay in business. Like cleggeron, I have no real interest in the "shopping experience". If I do go into town, it will be for specific things, and I try to get in and out as fast as possible. I guess we´re not the ideal shoppers, but we do still buy stuff. If there is a model for the future of the town centre, it is likely to involve things that can´t be done on the Internet - ie things for which you actually need to physically be there. Hence the growing numbers of hairdressers, nail bars, tattoo places. A properly functioning park and ride service will help, so long as people know they can get in and out of town quickly. We need more than one: minimum of 3 are needed, and they need to be cheaper than parking in town. Some shops have a thing where you can buy stuff and they will deliver to your home. If that´s done for free or at low cost, that could help. Rather than each shop running its own delivery service, they could combine together so that all your stuff gets collected together at a cantral point, and is then delivered in one go. It´s going to be tough for the town centre in the coming years, and people become more Internet savvy each year, so they will need to adapt to this or fade away. romantic
  • Score: 0

2:15pm Thu 22 Nov 12

colchesterguy says...

Perhaps Mr Ashbee should come down out of his office put his coat on and try the Colchester shopping experience from the customer’s point of view.
Transport in to town is bad by bus or car; car parks are very expensive when you can park at places like Westfield all day for £5!
Then try turning the heating down in all the shops and give the shop assistants something warm to wear, you are hit with a wave of heat in every shop.
The town shopping experience isn’t a good one right now, it’s not just the internet that will kill the town centre it’s big out of town shopping centres too. I think you really need to put your thinking hat on and come up with a much better plan and that needs to be everyone like planners, shop keepers, get everyone involved.
Perhaps Mr Ashbee should come down out of his office put his coat on and try the Colchester shopping experience from the customer’s point of view. Transport in to town is bad by bus or car; car parks are very expensive when you can park at places like Westfield all day for £5! Then try turning the heating down in all the shops and give the shop assistants something warm to wear, you are hit with a wave of heat in every shop. The town shopping experience isn’t a good one right now, it’s not just the internet that will kill the town centre it’s big out of town shopping centres too. I think you really need to put your thinking hat on and come up with a much better plan and that needs to be everyone like planners, shop keepers, get everyone involved. colchesterguy
  • Score: 0

11:05pm Thu 22 Nov 12

Boris says...

Mr Ashbee's company, and other landlords in Colchester, need to reduce rents drastically, so that shops can sell at more affordable prices.
Mr Ashbee's company, and other landlords in Colchester, need to reduce rents drastically, so that shops can sell at more affordable prices. Boris
  • Score: 0

12:13am Fri 23 Nov 12

Steve86 says...

I'll be shopping on the Internet. Far cheaper and easier to compare prices the going to town, where it costs a lot to park.
I'll be shopping on the Internet. Far cheaper and easier to compare prices the going to town, where it costs a lot to park. Steve86
  • Score: 0

9:12pm Fri 23 Nov 12

Boris says...

Several of Mr Ashbee's tenants (British Home Stores, Dorothy Perkins, Boots) are tax dodgers, so no sympathy for them.
Several of Mr Ashbee's tenants (British Home Stores, Dorothy Perkins, Boots) are tax dodgers, so no sympathy for them. Boris
  • Score: 0

11:12pm Fri 23 Nov 12

Reginald47 says...

Selling good stuff at a price people want to pay might work.
Selling good stuff at a price people want to pay might work. Reginald47
  • Score: 0

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