Improving High Street Performance Through Business Support

The shopping centre, town centre and place/destination management literature argues that management can and should involve business support interventions, such as training and advice.

There are some studies which have investigated business training and support within particular locations (e.g. Parker et al, 2003), but the provision of business support is not an explicit objective of most town centre partnerships. Whilst there are other structures and agencies that provide business support to the retail sector, the take up by businesses and individuals is significantly lower than in other sectors.

In our town workshops in Holmfirth, Morley and Barnsley last week, many improvements to the town centre were identified that need the full cooperation of retailers. These changes included adapting opening hours to meet the needs of the catchment and improving the overall customer experience when shopping in-town.

Retailers, especially independent retailers, are sometimes reticent to change their operations – but as consumer behaviour changes, so retailers need to adapt. Programmes of training, education or ‘sensitisation’ are used effectively in other sectors to support change.

Our previous research demonstrates that there is better take-up of these initiatives if they are packaged as ‘business support’ rather than training. Retailers need to be confident that investment in these activities will impact on the bottom- line. So, the provision, types and take up of business support and its impact upon both retail and high street performance are important areas for further research (Parker, Ntounis, Quin and Grime, 2014). This will enable a more convincing evidence base to be build to encourage High Street businesses of the benefits of getting good advice, training and support.

We will be presenting all the factors that impact upon high street performance and their relative influence at our conference in Manchester on 10th July 2014. The conference will also be streamed live of the Internet.

Please register your place by clicking this link


Parker, C., Anthony-Winter, T and Tabernacle, D. (2003). Learning by stealth: Introducing smaller retailers to the benefits of training and education in Barnet. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management.

Parker, C., Ntounis N-F, Quin, S and Grime, I. (2014). High Street Research Agenda: Identifying High Street research priorities. Journal of Place Management and Development

This blog entry was written by Cathy Parker, Nikos Ntounis and Simon Quin and is part of the ESRC funded High Street UK 2020 project.

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