Retailers and shoppers urged to get online to help boost their High Streets

The counties with the lowest rates of digital activity among local retailers and shoppers in England have been revealed.

High streets in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Shropshire and Cumbria are among the worst performing on average, according to The UK Digital Influence Index.

The index calculates the digital output of over 1,300 towns and cities based on the daily social media activity of its retailers and consumers. ‘Digital influence’ is the ability of any town or city to convert online engagement into footfall.

While cities in Devon ranked highly in the index with Exeter (22) and Plymouth (25) both featuring in the top 30, its lowest location was Lynton at 1250, giving the county an average ranking of 702.

Meanwhile, Cumbria’s highest ranked location was Carlisle at 128, while the market town of Kirkby Stephen was the lowest at 1303 – one of the lowest rankings in the entire index – giving the county an average ranking of 866, one of the lowest overall.

To increase their digital influence – and footfall – shoppers and retailers in towns and cities across the UK are joining #WDYT (What Do You Think), a collaborative campaign which works to connect retailers and consumers digitally, with the aim of converting this into increased footfall.

People are asked to share a photo each day of their favourite item of stock or something they love when out shopping to share across their social media channels, using #[Town] and #WDYT. In the same post/tweet they are also asked to tag in the relevant retailer’s social account handle. By doing this, shoppers then have an opportunity to win their favourite thing.

Polly Barnfield OBE, CEO and Founder of Maybe* which runs #WDYT, said:

[minti_blockquote]“With the increasing culture of online shopping, reviews and research, retail is now a 24/7 experience. The use of digital channels influences 78% of purchase decisions.  Embracing these channels can reap significant benefits for both individual retailers and their combined towns and cities.”[/minti_blockquote]

The campaign launched in Gloucestershire in 2016 and has helped the county rise quickly up the rankings, with Cheltenham landing at number eight in the index, ahead of Birmingham, and Gloucester at 12, ahead of Cardiff, Newcastle and Reading.  

Since February 2017, the campaign has also gone live in another seven towns and cities throughout the country. The data collected is being linked with local footfall devices to reveal the impact of digital influence on local footfall.

A further 15 towns and cities are also in discussions to go live, prior to a nationwide roll-out later this year.

Diane Savory, OBE DL, Chair of GFirst LEP, said:

[minti_blockquote]“In becoming digitally savvy, local businesses can join forces to drive footfall into towns and cities, dynamically changing our local economies. “The rate of change for businesses in the digital world is accelerating rapidly which means we must adapt. We have pioneered a blueprint in Gloucestershire that others can adopt. All UK towns and cities need to embrace the increasingly digitally connected consumer.”[/minti_blockquote]

Polly added:

[minti_blockquote]“The pilot campaign was a huge success, engaging with over 200 retailers and over 50,000 consumers all using #WDYT – we are here to help all retailers across the UK drive local footfall through digital channels.” [/minti_blockquote] [minti_divider style=”1″ icon=”” margin=”20px 0px 20px 0px”]

To get involved with #WDYT both business owners and their customers can simply post pictures to Twitter or Instagram using #Town and #WDYT and, where possible, @mention the local business too.

The UK Digital Influence Index is available for all 1300 UK towns. To see where your town or city ranks and for more information about the #WDYT campaign sign up here.

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