During COVID-19 there was a significant rise in the use of online shopping from the major retailers.
Local retailers have had to innovate and some of the practices and ideas are phenomenal from click and collect to applications on mobile devices where the customers chooses items that are then delivered.
In our main town the traditional high street shops are leaving and there is a lot of empty space. It would be wonderful if local councils and landlords looked at using the empty space to create opportunities for local businesses to sell and connect with the community.
For restaurants or caterers there could be sharing of a venue to create a food market with communal areas for people to sit and eat. This could be combined with local artists including musicians, poets performing whilst people eat. In the evenings there could be events including local acting companies as well as opportunities for local breweries and cocktail companies to provide service and opportunity for start ups to trial their offering.
For retailers, larger stores could be used to bring together a number companies creating a bazaar for customers to come in and browse the different products. These can be set up on longer term contracts or as a pop up concept for two to three weeks.
In addition the empty shops could be used to bring support within the community- offering educational opportunities or re- skilling events for people who were displaced during the pandemic and need to re-skill.
In summary we have a great opportunity to repurpose the vacant buildings in towns to create a centre that represents and is for the local community.