by Alexis Bailey, Head of Digital Engagement, DCLG
With the growth of online shopping some high streets are struggling to keep up with the competition from digital retail giants.
The Great British High Street campaign is about celebrating our high streets to boost the local economy by encouraging people to shop locally. It’s about diversifying the high street so the focus isn’t just on shopping, it’s on eating, drinking, socialising, housing, leisure and embracing new technology.
A big part of the campaign is the Great British High Street of the Year Awards. The competition is open to local groups working in collaboration. That means trade associations, community interest companies, town centre partnerships, Town Teams and Business Improvement Districts.
There are seven high street categories: city, town, village, coastal, market town, local precinct or parade of shops, and London high street. There will also be a ‘rising star’ award for a person or project showing dedication or innovation towards making the high street a better place.
The £50,000 prize fund will be shared between the winners. The winners will also receive training and mentoring. Google will run a Digital Garage on Tour for 100 small businesses in the winning areas to help them improve their digital skills and attract more customers.
The digital high streets report 2020 highlighted the importance using digital technology to future-proof high streets increase sales.
Last year’s winners said the kudos of being named a High Street of the Year was as valuable as the prizes, and some reported and increase in footfall to the high street.
This was a fun campaign to work on. The hashtag #GBHighSt was used 4,500 times during the competition, with celebrities Stephen Fry and Beck Adlington showing their support. Some of the entrants got creative on social media, finding fun ways to display the hashtag and getting the local community to post images, videos and reasons why they love their high street.
This year the judges will take into account social media activity by the entrants to rally the community round to support their entry. The public will be able to use an app to vote for their favourite shortlisted high street to win. The competition closes on 1 September and we’ll announce the finalists in October. Keep an eye out for us on Twitter and Facebook.