Not just any campaign for Lowestoft, but an M&S campaign
- Credit: Nick Butcher
As town centres try to adapt to the growth of online shopping, finding ways to boost trade and footfall is a big challenge.
But one coastal town's bid to support its smaller, independent stores is not just any campaign… but very much an M&S campaign.
Lowestoft Vision business improvement district (BID) is well aware of the challenges facing high streets, with chairman Danny Steel saying: 'The old ways are not going to work now.'
Although the town has enjoyed some success over the past year with continuous increases in footfall and attracting a number of new stores, including Starbucks, it has encountered difficulties with several major store closures in the past few weeks.
The closures of Argos, QD and BHS have largely been put down to national factors out of Lowestoft's control – but are leaving empty units in some of its biggest outlets.
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'We have to understand that we are not going to turn the high street back to how it was,' Mr Steel said. 'We have to manage the change.'
As such Lowestoft Vision has tried creating activities and events to bring people into the town, including the Turtle Trail – the town's answer to the Norwich GoGoDragons and GoGoGorillas, where people have to visit shops to find a series of giant turtles.
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But in one Lowestoft Vision meeting Duncan Adams, owner of Dunx Cycles in Lowestoft's High Street, said: 'I know a lot about bicycles but I've not got a clue how to lay out a shop.
'Wouldn't it be better to get the people from the bigger shops who do know what they're doing to help us?'
As a result Mark Leftley, Marks and Spencer store manager in Lowestoft, visited Dunx Cycles to provide a critique of the shop layout.
His tips, which included placing its best items towards the front of the store and improving the lighting to give the shop a more positive feel, have gone down a storm with customers.
'It is noticeable that customers have said the shop is looking good,' Mr Adams said. 'I've noticed a real difference.'