Training helps town attract more customers

Training from the National Skills Academy for Retail has helped ten independent shop owners in Clitheroe, Lancashire, give their windows the wow-factor as part of the town’s regeneration project.


The National Skills Academy for Retail’s Guide to Successful Retailing inspired by Mary Portas, has been used as part the Clitheroe Shop Front project, which aims to create new interest around the town’s shops by using imaginative window displays.


The project, funded by Ribble Valley Borough Council and Creativity Works, a Lancashire Cultural Consortium and supported by Clitheroe Chamber of Trade, included the visual merchandising training, alongside a town-wide window display competition and the chance to work with a local artist to create a special Christmas window.


As part of the project, Clitheroe retailers were invited to apply for free training on how to make a shop window that grabs customers’ attention and draws them in. Ten retailers attended the training course conducted by Preston Retail Skills Shop, part of the National Skills Academy for Retail’s network of skills shops.  Over the day attendees learnt how to use creativity and technical skills to display their products and stores to maximise sales and entertain passers-by.


Over the next six months, residents and visitors will be invited to vote for the best shop window in the town every month.


Helen Crossley, from Preston Retail Skills Shop, who taught the master class said: “As well as giving Clitheroe’s retailers the skills to make a great window to benefit their businesses, we have given them the confidence to create little bits of art for everyone to enjoy.


“The Clitheroe Shop Front project has been a hugely successful way of getting retailers and the Council to help each other and the town. Too often retailers in towns don’t recognise each other as allies because they are competitors for customers. But by working together they can create a destination town which customers and visitors won’t be able to resist.”


Katherine Rodgers, Arts Development Officer, Ribble Valley Borough Council, said: “By using artists to unleash the potential of the town’s shop fronts we hope to help the shopkeepers create a new buzz within the town, giving tourists and repeat shoppers another reason to come to Clitheroe. The shop window competition element will engage the public over the following six months with the hope that it can be continued into the future.”


Jane Rexworthy, Head of the National Skills Academy for Retail said: “Independent retailers are an essential component of any town’s character. In these challenging times, it is more important than ever for them to work together to create a great experience for shoppers, whether this be through excellent service, a special event or cross-selling between shops. I would encourage other towns to follow in Clitheroe’s footsteps and invest in their local businesses.”


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