The warning signs are there according to the latest footfall statistics on Britain’s high streets. A resilient industry must become even more resilient and, suggests Ken Scott, ever more innovative.
Just what you want going into Christmas, some festive cheer from the economy – footfall on high streets up and down the country fell 3.2 percent in November compared to last year.
The twelfth comparative decline in succession; index price rises up due to a shortage of wheat; Primark – the safe house of high street retail – on a downer; and analysts advising us to brace ourselves for the quietest Christmas for ten years.
Hallellujah. Thank the lord that there’s still some good old fashioned British slapstick on the TV at the moment to keep us cheerful – but even this isn’t raising a smile. The Brexit discussions are actually part of the conditions sapping the energies of household spending, that and the growing tentacles of online.
Somehow, British business – of which the amusements industry, we must not forget,is a major contributor and stakeholder in local economies – needs to navigate this. Marketing, promotions, engagement and innovation – these are the tools at the industry’s disposal. And judging by the abundance of promotional events and social media exchanges from operators – they are all doing their bit to drive their businesses forward.
The expanse of promo activity at the sharp end by amusements operators is quite literally incredible.
And it deserves more support. It needs new technology, not just to fend off the decimation of the high street,but to actually keep moving innovation forward, to deliver new techniques in manufacturing and new, pioneering British-based creations in the domestic and international marketplace.
The government needs to turn the taps on and let technology start to play its role in the industry.
It’s such a simple requirement – you’ve got to be pretty dumb not to recognise it. But such is that state of British politics at this moment.
But a word of caution, uncomfortable as it may sound in what should be a more charitable time of year.
Whilst everyone is barking social responsibility at you, there’s one vital responsibility that everyone seems to be totally disinterested in at the moment.
And that’s the responsibility of enabling you to keep your businesses running, your people employed, your high street functioning and your ability to provide local community services that deliver entertainment and fun. If there’s one thing to be taken from the desperate screaches from the latest high street figures is that the narrative and balance of discussions currently underway in our particular industry has to change radically and immediately.
The social responsibility message is received.We get it. Actually,many of our operators invented it.And we hear the new ideas and are keen to take them on because it’s part of our business philosophy.
But quite frankly, we need to start returning to the subject of business and the economy as quickly as possible. Because, as soon as you step out from another social responsibility seminar, you might not have a business to return to.
And that’s the stark reality that all the stakeholders engaged in our industry need to keep their focus on. Without our businesses there is no balanced social responsibility. No support for local community projects, no fundraising for local charities,no social offerings for older members of the community, no employment opportunities for young kids, no one with direct face to face engagement with those of a vulnerable disposition. Oh, and no business rates, no rents for landlords, no money to the treasury.
Is this thinking really too joined up for politcians to grasp?
Responsibility is not just for Christmas, and it’s not just for amusements operators.It extends to everyone, including the decision makers who need to step up to the plate and take their local economic reponsibilities seriously.