Wednesday 27 Mar 2017
Following the news that another long-established retailer has closed in Stroud, The Citizen contacted us to ask our views on the uncertainty Brexit is having on our high streets, and the impact of the Internet on local business.
Many learned of the sad closure of Eclipse in the High Street, Stroud via the article covered in Stroud News and Journal here.
Our Chair was contacted for comment by The Citizen, following the statement, from Sid Copp, that Brexit uncertainty and competition from the Internet.
"We can't comment on the specific case of Eclipse, which is undoubtedly sad news for them and their customers. The reasons they've stated are all too common, unfortunately. Regardless of your views on Brexit, it's hard to believe the current uncertainty is it is not having a negative impact on our local businesses that rely on consumer trade. Whenever there is a budget or an election, footfall and buying can be negatively impacted. Different businesses feel it to differing extents, but this prolonged uncertainty is being reported by many as being felt in the tills - like an election that lasts week upon week.
With regard to the Internet as a threat, this is a theme we addressed only last week in our workshop "Taking your place on the Internet". It's essential for the survival of many businesses (retail or services) to take your place online - without it you can't compete. There is a myth that being a local ( perhaps smaller) business you cannot compete with the bigger players, but in many cases I believe that simply is not the case. There are studies that clearly indicate having an online shop or similar presence increases footfall. There are too many businesses who neglect their social media, which leads to low engagement from their customers. Being a smaller town there are often unfounded rumours circulating about one shop or another closing; sometimes a quick check of their Facebook page, where there may have been no posts for weeks (sometimes longer), does nothing to dispel that. Again, I can't comment on the online offerings Eclipse had, but I do know you cannot compete with the Internet if you do not have a good presence on it. It's also important not to cut profit to try to compete with the discounters - that's just a race to the bottom where no-one wins and we've seen many of these discounters struggle too.
I echo Sid's words it is vital local shoppers continue to shop locally and support local businesses. We have a great diversity of shops and businesses within Stroud, many of which some visitors are yet to discover! We urge those who are local to Stroud to shop locally, and not just on Farmers Market days, to utilise the Free-after-three parking in the Brunel Multi-storey, and to keep our local economy alive."
Further to this, there has been evidence that many people who live locally to Stroud do not know the breadth of shops and services that are available within the town. This is the reason why the Chamber created the InStroud Facebook page, which has proven to positively inform its followers of new businesses and new products that Stroud has to offer. Unfortunately many traders have been slow to engage with this free initiative, but many who have report positive impacts from it - and the statistics show our message is being heard.
Friday 1 Mar 2019
Just three months have passed since publishing our focus survey and your Chamber of Trade committee has been busy working to address the issues that businesses in Stroud have raised.
Your Chamber has continued to work hard to ensure the voice of business is heard, understood and valued. We have met and worked with local authorities, the Police, the Media and business leaders. We have engaged the public to raise awareness of the diversity of businesses that Stroud has to offer and to raise footfall. We have sought steps to tackle the concerns of local businesses and put in place initiatives that are not just short-term, fix term funded, solutions.
Thursday 21 Feb 2019
Once again a Charity has been criticised for the way those representing them have been fundraising in our town. Read the full article from the Stroud News and Journal here.
On this occasion, Stroud News and Journal did not approach us for comment. However, prior to their article (following reports to the Committee from its members) the Stroud Chamber of Trade had already initiated steps to help bring more balance.
The Stroud Chamber of Trade are seeking a longer term solution to balance the needs of charities and all those who visit Stroud for Business or Pleasure. This process has already started, with a positive dialogue between the Chamber and the Institute of Fundraising, with a view to initiating a Site Management Agreement. Such agreements help balance fundraising activities in terms of days, frequency and numbers of Fundraisers - so also making it fairer for those who fundraise responsibly in our town. Fundraising and charities play an important and valuable role in our society, and we all seek to ensure their reputations are not tarnished by allowing poor fundraising practices.
The Chamber also seeks to open communications with Local Authorities to help implement this in agreement and collaboration - this supports our objectives of making Stroud better together.
More information can be found at www.stroudchamber.org.uk/resources
Wednesday 16 Jan 2019
The InStroud Facebook page has been launched today; the first vehicle in a programme to raise awareness of businesses within Stroud and promote Stroud Town in general. Its aim is to promote, through regular posts, shops and businesses that want to showcase new goods or services; promote sales, offers and other promotions; share information about events for their customers and potential customers; and raise awareness of the wide range of products and services across the town.
You can learn more about InStroud here.
Tuesday 15 Jan 2019
Mon 17 Dec 2018
We were asked by Stroud News and Journal to comment on the opening of Aldi outside Stroud and regarding the concerns, raised at planning stage, that it might have an unfavourable impact on Stroud's High Street.
We responded: "Bringing employment to the area and additional choice is welcome. It's unfortunate that the site is so far away from town centres and Stroud is in need of a supermarket offering in the town for those who live and work there. It would be great to see such a retailer open a town-sized supermarket to bring more diversity into our town centre, which in turn is likely to bring more trade to the other great retailers who are in town."
Wed 12 Dec 2018
Stroud News and Journal covers the results of the Stroud Chamber of Trade survey. Raising awareness of the concerns of Stroud businesses is important and we're committed to working with agencies and businesses to drive improvement. Read the article here.
Wed 05 Dec 2018
Stroud Chamber of Trade publishes its 2018 Focus Survey.
Tue 04 Dec 2018
We have launched our new, online identity. This site reaches out to the businesses in our district to provide them with valuable resources and information.