So the future of high streets. Kind of a serious matter in today’s world.
Many people have thrown in their thoughts and there are countless ideas out there. From harking back to the good old days and bringing back local, micro-communities through to change of use entirely and grassing over every high street in the land, each idea has its merit.
At The Yard Creative, we undertook some customer research around what we all like about shopping.
The outcome of this was clear: We are indeed the mall generation.
We love the ease of mall shopping. The warmth of having a roof over our heads. The central location. The mass of parking spaces. The onslaught of retail at every single step. And more food and beverage offers than your stomach can contend with!
So that’s fine. Its a consumer shift in behavioural retail interaction. It was always going to happen.
But back to the high street. Why can’t it offer the same actions? Is it too simple to simply stick a roof over it? Can we dig underground car parks underneath it?
Then integrate the digital with the physical, Minority Report-style. Make each fascia a digital banner like on a website that interacts with your phone giving you permission marketing alerts. Use the centre of the street for kiosks and entertainment areas (new rental opportunities for the council).
Every high street already has great public transport links so no need to worry about new infrastructure.
Is this really too simple an idea? Granted there would be challenges with building levels, conservation, permissions, etc. but all can be overcome. We can build 95 storey-high buildings, dig a brand new underground line under an entire city. Surely this is do-able.
Sometimes its these ideas that get called ridiculous. Sometimes they work.
Steve James-Royle is creative director at The Yard Creative.