The recession has sounded the death knell for many well know high street shops. Woolworths, Jessop’s and HMV have all suffered with the fate of the high street often lamented in the press, as has the demise of the traditional shopping experience. Many of Britain’s high streets seem to be emptying as people favour out of town shopping centres or the ease of the Internet. Yet York still has a vibrant and buzzing town centre. As a historic town it is unique in many ways, and is filled with independent and boutique shops, that seem to be thriving despite the current economic climate.
The Yorkshire Soap Company is one of many new shops to have opened in York in the past year. They sell luxury soaps for low prices and have reported a business increase of 43 per cent from last year.
This almost unprecedented growth comes from the fact that they are in a market that is growing and that they offer luxury items for low prices. They also attribute their success to the fact that York has a very unique city centre in terms of the history, beauty and other attractions (including museums, the walls etc.) but also highlight that 60 per cent of their customers are locals and regulars.
Another boutique shop is Saffrons of York; a small card and gift shop. They say that trading is currently “fantastic” and that they haven’t felt the recession. They highlight York as a quirky town centre which benefits from the large amount of visitors.
However, they also commented that over half of their customers are local, which has helped them to build up strong customer loyalty.
York also contains a lot of shops that have a following and reputation outside of the city. Betty’s is an obvious example, although it has a shop in Harrogate too. It is one of the most popular shops in York; like the smaller shops it has a mix of regular customers and tourists.
It was established in 1919 and has continued to grow in strength, with the smaller Betty’s on Stonegate, and their successful shop and website; it is one of York’s most popular and well known shops and destinations.
The success of York as a city centre seems to be the combination of everything the city has to offer. The history and the individuality of the shops attracts visitors but also ensures that locals don’t leave to shop elsewhere. Shops can build up a relationship with their customers to offer them the best service, and this is perhaps what is missing from bigger, more generic companies.