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Repair cafes could help to boost Cornish highstreets

Repair cafes and ’20 minute neighbourhoods’ could help to revitalise Cornish high streets, according to a new report by the University of Exeter. 

The researchers analysed initiatives from around the world to discover ideas that could work in Cornwall. 

It says initiatives such as the US Main Street Programme – where older buildings are revitalised, 20 Minute Neighbourhoods in Australia – where everything people use to live and work is within easy distance and Repair Cafes in Amsterdam and France all offer learning opportunities for Cornish high streets.

The report says repair cafes would be popular because of the growing awareness of environmental issues, and the popularity of buying locally-produced products. 

people walking between concrete buildings at daytime

The researchers found that creating experiences in the spaces was key, as well as involving the public in their development.

Phoebe Lawlor, lead author of the study said: ‘High streets are vibrant places when they have a social element, where they are locations with purpose, enjoyment and community spirit. This can be absent from many high streets at the moment.

‘As popular as internet shopping is, the thrill of seeing a beautiful dress in a shop window and being able to touch the fabric and try before you buy or admiring a piece of art in a gallery and browse a book shop for the perfect book are moments that can never be replaced online.

‘The high street has to evolve and elevate itself into something more than the same few shops, the next step is paramount. Retailers now have a centre stage to change the future of real-life shopping by stepping up, buying responsibly, stimulating and engaging customers with exciting and inviting window displays and good merchandising whilst having a warm welcome and offering good customer service making it a retail experience.

‘Consumers must remain the priority, and without an effective plan, there is a risk high streets will remain or become desolate and lifeless. Shopping is no longer the way to sustain a high street, there now has to be more offered to customers.’

Photo by Artur Kraft

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