Town Centres used to be a retail hub where people came to shop but the massive growth in online sales means the 21stCentury High Street is changing. There are now over 150 places to eat and drink in Worthing Town Centre and over 90 places offering health and beauty services. While there are sometimes negative comments posted on social media questioning the need for so many hairdressers or coffee shops this clearly demonstrates the changing habits of Town Centre users. Entrepreneurs would not risk their own money if they didn’t expect to have a thriving profitable business; its customer demand that is driving the change on the High Street. If the public want to see more retail on the High Street, then they need to come back to Town Centres to shop.
While Town Centres can still be vibrant places to go sometimes providing an added reason to visit will boost footfall. Events are a great way of encouraging a trip to town and these are now a key part of Town Centre life. Events can be contentious though, get the right event and it not only attracts people into the Town Centre, but they also spend in Town Centre businesses, get it wrong and shoppers shun the year-round businesses for temporary pop up stalls. In a recent survey, with the business community, 75% would like to see more events but only 25% supported more markets. This offers a challenge as events can be costly and it’s the market stalls and traders at an event that help cover event costs.
Worthing is a Business Improvement District (BID) and some of the income generated from business contributions is invested into events in and around the Town Centre. Events such as the Urban Beach and the Food Festival promote Worthing while enhancing the Town Centre experience. The best events showcase Worthing businesses to a wider audience and assist them in generating a new regular customer base.
The BID funds have also helped other key events in the Town Centre including the Fireworks on November 5th. This event is organised by the Lions but by funding the Fireworks it ensures the other costs for Road Closures, security etc. can be covered and the display can continue to have the WOW factor.
In 2018 the first Independents Day was held, and this highlighted Worthing’s Independent shopping offer by showcasing them in the heart of the Town Centre. Shoppers were stunned at the variety and uniqueness of what was available on their doorstep. Independents Day will be held again in 2019 on 14th July and we expect even more businesses to take part.
To help raise awareness of what is on offer in the Town Centre a new Town Centre Guide is currently being designed. This guide will show what a diverse and exciting offer Worthing has and will be available around the town and handed out at the major events. Did you know Worthing has 115 independent retail businesses and 137 independent food businesses?
2019 is set to be jam-packed with activity – keep an eye on www.discoverworthing.com and www.worthingtowncentre.co.uk for upcoming events. With the prospect of the Worthing Observation Wheel and even more events planned there will be lots of reasons to visit Worthing Town Centre.
We hope you support as many of the events as you can and that you really enjoy them. However, please take time to visit the Town Centre businesses during your visit – they would love to see you.