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Banstead village harnesses social media in attempt to secure future of traditional high street

PUBLISHED: 12:30 11 November 2013 | UPDATED: 12:30 11 November 2013

Banstead High Street

Banstead High Street

Archant

Harnessing the power of social media, @BansteadHighSt is a campaign to help Banstead's independent shops thrive. Here they share how their 'coalition of the willing' will be celebrating this Christmas

A commonly held view is that High Streets are dying. Up and down the country, small and medium sized retailers are struggling because people are spending less, and more of what they do spend goes online.

However, dig a little deeper and I find that the traditional local high street still has a lot to offer.

Small shops come and go, and it is true that some small business owners struggle to define their target audience, create a proposition that appeals and market their shop or service. But there are still many, many shops that provide an incredibly valuable service. It’s just that people need reminding they are there.

Multi-national retailers are trying to be more personal, getting to know their customers better and have more meaningful conversations with them. But this is exactly what local shops have been doing for hundreds of years.

This is what inspired me to see if I couldn’t rejuvenate Banstead High Street, where I live, with a campaign to get local people to start to spend more of their money again on local shops.

Being passionate about retail, social media and my local high street, I felt like something should be done and, that I should do it, so at the end of last year I wandered along the High Street to drum up some support for a Christmas event which I wanted organise.

However, I have to say I was a little surprised at the apparent lack of interest coupled with the overriding sentiment that the local community would not get behind such an event and that it would be too hard to organise.

After a little digging I soon discovered that there was no local retailers group, moreover no local retailers stepped up to rally support.

This year, however, I am having another crack at this, and I’m pleased to say that the progress is a lot more promising.

I have managed to a form a ‘coalition of the willing’ of over 30 shops, all of whom have pledged to support Banstead High Street’s first late night Christmas shopping event on Thursday December 12.

I’m not a retailer myself, but I do work with retailers as part of my job. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that retailers survive through promotion and word of mouth. So, with this in mind, I have established the @BansteadHighSt twitter feed to promote the shops through social media.

I am filling the gap that a local retail association or Chamber of Commerce should fill, except we are powered by social media. We even have a voucher app for local people coming out soon.

What’s clear, is that the combined power and co-ordination of the retailers and the town is far greater than any shop could achieve on its own.

So, it’s time that Banstead residents turned out, voted with their wallets and spent a few more pounds in the high street this Christmas and fewer pounds online to support the local economy. It’s the right thing to do and you have most of what you need on your doorstep!

By @BansteadHighSt / www.facebook.com/banstead.highstreet

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