Cheshire town is pilot for ‘National High Street Perfect Day’

Sir John Timpson

Altrincham town centre is leading the revival of the UK’s high streets, hosting a pilot for National High Street Perfect Day this Friday, May 17.

Awarded the ‘Best High Street’ in England last year, the town has been chosen as Sir John Timpson, who chaired the Government’s ‘High Street Report’ last December, which recommended that local leaders must be at the forefront of the rejuvenation of town centres and improving the housekeeping of their high streets.

Now the idea of a ‘National High Street Perfect Day’ – one day in the year when every high street looks and feels the best it possibly can – is being trialled in Altrincham. The lessons will be shared with other town centres across the nation.

The idea is inspired by a similar approach used by Timpson, the Manchester-based high street retail services group familiar to UK shoppers thanks to its 1,325 units across the nation.

Sir John Timpson, chair of the expert advisory panel on high streets, and chairman of retail services company Timpson, said: “Altrincham is where I served my first customer, and that’s one of the reasons I proposed it as the pilot town for the ‘National High Street Perfect Day’.

“It’s a town where the partnerships are working really hard in a challenging national high street environment to buck the trend.

“The ‘Perfect Day’ concept is one which we use in my shops throughout the country and it has worked for us for years.

“On one day each year, in every part of the business, the whole team get involved to make sure they shine on the day. Scaling it up to a whole town centre is an exciting proposition and I look forward to seeing the results in Altrincham.”

The whole community, including the businesses represented by Altrincham Unlimited – the Business
Improvement District – schools, voluntary groups and Trafford Council, will be working towards ‘one special day’ in many ways.

The BID is coordinating a programme of jet washing and working with Trafford Council’s contractors to focus on the appearance of the town centre. The BID is also partnering with six local schools on the ‘Eco Schools’ education programme and with ‘Our Altrincham’ on voluntary litter picks.

Examples of how businesses can be involved include reviewing the look of their premises and ensuring their customer service is where they want it to be, through optional mystery shops.

They will also be offered support if they would like to spring clean their social media.

To celebrate all the hard work, the town’s great retail and business offer, and the community that is Altrincham, the BID will be producing the town’s first ‘High Street Festival’ which will also take place between 12-8pm in the town centre on Friday, May 17.

All town centres are challenged by the trends of out-of-town retail and online shopping. While visits to UK town centres are down 17% over the past decade and online shopping is rising 10% a year, Altrincham’s footfall has steadily increased over the past five years, and even visits for the first quarter of this year are up 10.7% on the same period last year.

Research by Visa for the Government-run Great British High Street Awards found that eight out of 10 people in the North West believe ‘that the High Street is about people’ and that they would miss it if it was no longer there.

High Streets Minister and Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen, Jake Berry, said: “The National Perfect Day represents a fantastic opportunity for communities to get together in partnership with local businesses and ensure our high streets are places we have even greater pride in.

Jake Berry

“There are many great high streets up and down the country and we need to go out and celebrate them, learn from their successes and, most importantly, use them.

“In Altrincham, the local community has done a brilliant job in transforming the town centre into becoming the success it is today and there could be no better place to launch the day than on England’s champion high street.”

Elizabeth Faulkner, The BID manager for Altrincham Unlimited, said: “We know Altrincham is not perfect and, like any other town, has its challenges.

“So many individuals and businesses have said they want to work together in partnership to try and make the town ‘look and feel’ the best it can for the 17th May and continue the initiative on a day-by-day basis in the future.

“We’re thrilled to have been invited by Sir John Timpson to be the pilot town as it gives us all something to work towards.”

Richard Roe, corporate director for place at Trafford Council, said: “Building on the Great British High Street success, this is yet another national plaudit for the town which the council fully supports.

“We will be working closely with Altrincham Unlimited to make the day a success, and a model that we can further develop going forward.”