2023 has been a mixed year for retail. The post pandemic and Ukraine conflict has seen a two-pronged assault on economic recovery, while nations also battle to bring inflation under control. But there are encouraging signs the malaise may begin to recede. And with a hope for improvement in trading conditions, it’s important for High Street brands to play their part in encouraging people back into stores.
But for retailers, what plans should they have for the coming year? Here’s a few suggestions:
A fresh approach to maintenance
As anyone in retail already knows, their locations must be attractive and inviting to customers. People need to feel they are wanted and appreciated and are in an environment that makes them comfortable. So the need for retail locations to be in top condition will be greater than ever.
But retailers must also ensure their maintenance plans deliver a high-quality service with best value. The traditional answer is to place maintenance as a full service with a single provider. But this has not always proved to work as intended. An alternative is to adopt a more hybrid approach; utilise the services of a broad service provider but include long-term specialists who have a track record in delivering excellent work to a high standard.
Reviewing fire safety
The latter part of 2023 saw the latest in a round of updates to fire legislation. This has tightened up several aspects of how retailers and commercial property owners must comply with legislation around fire safety. This includes important detail aspects, such as:
- Understanding who is now the designated ‘responsible person’ in your business
- Who undertakes fire safety inspections
- How retailers must work with landlords to ensure locations are safe places to work and visit
- What emergency lighting is in place – how it works and what improvements can be made
With penalties for non-compliance becoming far more severe, this is one task within retail maintenance which will be vital to complete correctly
Being prepared for bad weather ahead
We have all witnessed the increase in bad weather over the last few years. The more extreme weather events have exploited weaknesses in both buildings and local infrastructure. It will be important to look ahead and become better prepared to deal with future storms. If not, the resultant damage to property and stock will inflict a terrible cost on retail brands.
2023 saw the removal from sale of the most popular form of lighting for retailers. New supplies of fluorescent tubes and lamps are no longer allowed, and existing stocks will quickly dry up.
While retailers have already begun in most cases to move across to LED technology, there remains many fluorescent installations in place. Ceiling fittings for example are still extremely common in retail properties.
This may at first not seem a problem. But in fact it is a major opportunity for retailers. First, moving to LED lighting can make a huge impact on energy bills for a property. Second, this is a chance to reconsider how lighting can be used to attract customer and improve their buying habits.
Those are just a few suggestions we have already been involved with helping retailers get ready for the year ahead. With the UK’s largest network of vetted trades, Store Maintenance is the first choice for many of the High Street’s most iconic brands. So, whatever your maintenance plans are for 2024, be sure to get in touch for advice and support.