There is a maxim in the retail world that states what many commercial corridor managers often overlook…there is a direct correlation between how much time people spend along a commercial corridor and how much money they spend there.
So how do you extend the duration of a shopper visit to your district?
- The first question you need to ask is ‘who’ is your typical shopper? Families with children, young adults on an evening out, a tourist from another city? Extending the duration of a visit requires different strategies depending on who the customer is.
- Think about your district in terms of an itinerary for each of these shoppers. Do you have enough for a four hour visit for a family of four? In addition to shopping, is there a place for the kids to grab an ice cream cone? Are there any kinds of family entertainment options? Can you encourage family entertainment programming on the street (street performers, jugglers, etc.)? Do you have a small theatre where you can establish family based performances? On the other hand, if you thinking about attracting young adults, do the bars and restaurants in your district offer live entertainment? Do they offer wine tastings or book readings? These are all ways to create itineraries that extend the length of stay of your target market.
- In-store events and activities are another way to keep shoppers shopping. Why do you think Home Depot or Michael’s (an east coast-based craft store) offer in-store classes to their customers. Because they know if they keep folks in their stores longer, they will increase sales. Do you have a fabric or craft store on your street? Do they offer classes? Can you help them promote these classes in conjunction with a lunch discount at a local café so that both merchants benefit from the increased traffic? Length of stay also affects parking patterns. That is because the longer people stay, the more likely they are to visit a few stores, and the less important it becomes to park in front of a particular store.
Before you begin tackling this challenge, you need to take stock of your district and understand who your current shopper is. First, consider issuing a customer survey to find out how much time, on average, customers spend in your district. Second, think through ‘who’ your target shopper is. Do you know where they live? Do you know what kind of leisure activities they like to participate in? For instance, I am currently working in a district that lies right along a well used regional bike trail. Creating itineraries for cyclists is very different than creating itineraries for a young couple out on a dinner date. Our efforts to create a set of activities to lengthen stay will therefore look different depending on which customer is our target customer. And finally, take stock of what you currently have to offer the customer and consider developing a few new itineraries using the resources you have on hand – notably the existing retail stores, restaurants and opportunties for activities that already exist in your district.