Adopting some simple resolutions for the New Year could help attract new customers to your shop.

Why not try some of these:

  • Regularly look at your business from the customers point of view, remedy any failings immediately.
  • Keep your shop front well swept and free of weeds and rubbish.
  • Refresh the message on your ‘A’ sign, keep it informative, clean and sensibly located.
  • Display your business contact details clearly on the shop fascia or window.
  • Request the window cleaner to clean the shop fascia on a regular basis. What about cleaning the insides more regularly?
  • Ensure window displays are regularly changed and that the window is working for you even when the shop is closed.
  • Illuminate your window effectively and keep window lighting on after the shop is closed.
  • Repair light fittings immediately something goes wrong and keep bulbs to the same specification.
  • Remove unnecessary notices from your shop window and door – particularly if they are promoting another business.
  • Remember the age old retail adage – EYE LEVEL IS BUY LEVEL” and use it to maximise the appeal of your window and interior displays.

Look out for more simple resolutions from ‘The Shop Doctor’ to help make your shop work harder for you in 2012.

Sometimes addressing the simplest of things can make the greatest impact.

Wishing you a Happy New Year, and let’s hope for a more prosperous one.




The independent review into the future of our high streets undertaken by Mary Portas has now been published and the full report can be accessed via her official website

The following is a summary of the 28 recommendations made within the report:

1.Put in place a “Town Team”: a visionary, strategic and strong operational management team for high streets

2. Empower successful Business Improvement Districts to take on more responsibilities and powers and become “Super-BIDs”

3. Legislate to allow landlords to become high street investors by contributing to their Business Improvement District

4. Establish a new “National Market Day” where budding shopkeepers can try their hand at operating a low-cost retail business

5. Make it easier for people to become market traders by removing unnecessary regulations so that anyone can trade on the high street unless there is a valid reason why not

6. Government should consider whether business rates can better support small businesses and independent retailers

7. Local authorities should use their new discretionary powers to give business rate concessions to new local businesses

8. Make business rates work for business by reviewing the use of the RPI with a view to changing the calculation to CPI

9. Local areas should implement free controlled parking schemes that work for their town centres and we should have a new parking league table

10. Town Teams should focus on making high streets accessible, attractive and safe

11. Government should include high street deregulation as part of their ongoing work on freeing up red tape

12. Address the restrictive aspects of the ‘Use Class’ system to make it easier to change the uses of key properties on the high street

13. Put betting shops into a separate ‘Use Class’ of their own

14. Make explicit a presumption in favour of town centre development in the wording of the National Planning Policy Framework

15. Introduce Secretary of State “exceptional sign off ” for all new out-of-town developments and require all large new developments to have an “affordable shops” quota

16. Large retailers should support and mentor local businesses and independent retailers

17. Retailers should report on their support of local high streets in their annual report

18. Encourage a contract of care between landlords and their commercial tenants by promoting the leasing code and supporting the use of lease structures other than upward only rent reviews, especially for small businesses

19. Explore further disincentives to prevent landlords from leaving units vacant

20. Banks who own empty property on the high street should either administer these assets well or be required to sell them

21. Local authorities should make more proactive use of Compulsory Purchase Order powers to encourage the redevelopment of key high street retail space

22. Empower local authorities to step in when landlords are negligent with new “Empty Shop Management Orders”

23. Introduce a public register of high street landlords

24. Run a high profile campaign to get people involved in Neighbourhood Plans

25. Promote the inclusion of the High Street in Neighbourhood Plans

26. Developers should make a financial contribution to ensure that the local community has a strong voice in the planning system

27. Support imaginative community use of empty properties through Community Right to Buy, Meanwhile Use and a new “Community Right to Try”

28. Run a number of High Street Pilots to test proof of concept

The Governments response will be published early in 2012.

8 independent businesses in Knutsford directly participated in the most recent round of Shop Doctor surgeries funded by Cheshire East Council on 29th & 30th November.

‘One to one’ in-store surgeries were focused on helping retailers maximise additional opportunities within their existing businesses and how to achieve this in a cost effective way.

“All too often opportunities to maximise the impact of  a business,  its appeal to the customer, and how existing fixtures and fittings  can be more effectively utilised, positioned and merchandised can easily become overlooked” commented The Shop Doctor adding “During my surgeries I prompt retailers to take a look at their business from the customer perspective,  recognise how small changes can  help deliver significant benefits and how, by applying simple concepts regarding  how customer ‘shop the shop’, it is possible to increase unit sales”

A Retail Masterclass was also included within the programme and this was delivered by The Shop Doctor on the evening of the 30th.  Attendees at the Masterclass also received information about the CORA World Host Customer Service programme being delivered by the Cheshire Oaks Retail Academy.

Shops visited included, Roberta Beauty Redefined, Papa’s Tailoring, Raw Sienna, Aunty Mabel’s Seat, Clarity Contemporary Jewellery, The Orange Orchard, Polished Glass and Cherry Tree

Whilst in Knutsford The Shop Doctor also looked in on Cooks Emporium, Stephen Edwards Electrical and EmsOriginals

I certainly experienced some excellent shops, superb skills and undoubted entrepreneurship during my visit to Knutsford, a town well worth visiting.

Residents and businesses across Cheshire East are benefiting from the increasing reach of the innovative and rewarding Love Local Life Loyalty Scheme.

The scheme is supported by Cheshire East Council who have recognised the opportunities that such a scheme can deliver and how it can be further developed to provide a single source of information and reward capable of effectively promoting local businesses and council services and facilities.

The innovative scheme is built around a  local discounts and rewards card which offers residents savings  across Cheshire East! The scheme provides the best way to save when shopping locally, and can be used when eating out, buying gifts, keeping fit, using local business services and much much more.

Two productive days were spent by The Shop Doctor in Alsager on the 15th & 16th November when he met with 10 retailers and presented a Retail Masterclass on the evening of the 16th.

The business support programme funded by Cheshire East Council enabled advisory visits to Malcolm Broad Opticians, Two Thumbs Up, Grub and Go, Delissimo, Grapevine, Home Comforts, Bands, Elizabeth Ann, Honeysuckle Flowers and Elite Dry Cleaners.

Alsager has a great range of independent shops and the intention of the visits was to help identify ways of making good shops even better. Each business will receive a written report from The Shop Doctor summarising issues that he identified                                                      during  the visits and various ideas developed subsequently.

The evening Masterclass was held at the Best Western Manor House Hotel and highlighted a range of issues that would help to ensure that businesses presented themselves in a way that appealed to customers. Getting customers off the pavement and into the shop being one of the first essentials of increasing business vitality. Ways of  getting customers to spend a little more than they intended once inside also featuring in the presentation.

The Shop Doctor will be carrying out a similar programme in Knutsford on the 29th and 30th November.



A pilot project by Tesco to run in-store hair and beauty salons has been described by small-business groups as a further threat to independent retailers, many who are already struggling to survive.

The project will see the ‘Regis Salons’ chain offering “luxury at great Tesco prices” in Tesco Extra  stores in eight towns and cities in England and Wales.

Concern is being expressed by trade bodies that the development could force further small shop closures on our High Street with customers being attracted away from their traditional hair and beauty treatment providers.

The hair and beauty sector has to date avoided facing the challenges created by the continuing development of product and service diversity being driven by the supermarket chains  and, for some, it has been surprising that the hair and beauty sector has not been targeted previously.

For more information click here.

For an up to date review of the impact of the new in store facility in Horwich read the article carried in The Bolton News on the 29th October


Regis Salons are part of the Regis Corporation which owns and operates over 400 salons in the United Kingdom, including brands such as Regis, Supercuts and Sassoon Salon.

In addition, Regis maintains an ownership interest in Provalliance, which operates salons primarily in Europe, under the brands of Jean Louis David, Franck Provost and Saint Algue.

Whilst Mary Portas is commissioned by No.10 to ponder over what it is that makes our Towns vibrant, economically active and productive trading centres some of us are out their actually helping to address the issues that will undoubtedly surface in Mary’s report.

It did not seem that long ago that there were complaints about the number of Estate Agents entering the High Street, now we are seeing planners allowing change of use from retail to the professional services sector providing an increasing level of High Street presence for Accountants, Solicitors, Financial Advisors etc. Many do not fit well in a retail environment and can dramatically alter the perception of what a town has to offer.

Many of the more locally based Charity Shops within the 9,000 estimated to be operating nationally are now feeling the squeeze as the slick national brands divert opportunity away from the smaller operators.  Now there is not is there just competition for business but  competition for donated stock as well.

Having advised many hundreds of retail/high street businesses, and visited both vibrant and far less than vibrant towns across the Country in the course of my work I have developed an understanding of what makes some towns work more effectively than others, what makes  some of our High Streets full of life and , unfortunately, what can lead to their demise.

I will be presenting the first of my overviews of what makes a town vibrant at the Cheshire East Sustainable Towns Forum  on 1st November and am in the process of writing an article for a national trade magazine on the same issue.

Cheshire East Sustainable Towns Forum Flyer



The Shop Doctor has been active again this week working with Cheshire East Council delivering his bespoke retail business support to independent retailers in Wilmslow, Knutsford, Disley, Nantwich, Handforth,  Sandbach, Middlewich and Crewe.

At an evening workshop on Tuesday 27th September retailers from Wilmslow, Handforth, Disley and Knutsford participated in an enjoyable and informative evening workshop focusing on how retailers can attract more customers by making the best of the visual impact of their business.

On Wednesday 28th the Shop Doctor participated in the East Cheshire Chamber of Commerce Open Day by delivering two workshops, one in the afternoon (aimed at professional service providers operating on our High Streets) and the second identifying how retailers can maximise unit sales by applying simple but effective  layout and merchandising techniques.

On Thursday the day was spent visiting  6 retailers in Nantwich and 1 in Crewe and on Friday 7 retailers across Middlewich, Sandbach and Nantwich will be receiving a visit.

Public toilets are not always available where or when you need them, there is often a queue at the ladies, and facilities for disabled people, children and for changing babies are not always adequate.

However, public toilet provision is at the discretion of local authorities, and there is currently no legal requirement for Councils to provide any toilets at all. In fact 40% of public toilets have closed in the last ten years. The campaign group ‘We need the Loo’, a joint venture between the Women’s Design Service, the British Toilet Association and the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering has therefore launched an online petition to ask the Government to make adequate public toilet provision a legal requirement.

They are asking for adequate toilet facilities for everybody, including men, women, children, babies and disabled people.

If you would like to play your part in ensuring we have public toilets as part of more sustainable, comfortable and inclusive communities, please publicise this petition. It has its own Facebook page, and the petition can be found by searching for public toilets on the government’s e-petition web site, or by using this link –  http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/15258

Well maintained, well equipped, clean and easily accessible toilets can make a real contribution to how customers use our towns – a way has to be found to improve, not remove, public toilet provision.

epetition flyer – we need the loo

epetition press release