Many downtowns and Main Streets across the USA and Canada are grappling with how to remain relevant and thrive in the digital age. A report by the Economic & Social Research Council – University of Southampton provides some very interesting observations and suggestions. While it was produced from the perspective of High Streets in Britain, it is still of great relevance to retail locations worldwide.
I found it interesting to see that many small retail districts have proven more resilient than some larger centers during the economic downturn and, may be in a stronger position to combat internet retailing or globalization better than many larger towns, city centers, or regional shopping malls. One of the reasons for this is the growth of their night-time and tourism economies and the presentation of activities that can’t be provided by online or digital technologies. This phenomenon extends well beyond bars, clubs and alcohol- related activities.
The report brings together the views of a dozen academics and practitioners who have expert knowledge on the evolution of retail districts in the digital era.