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Hertfordshire high streets are in trouble but don’t blame Covid

Lee Hall

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Kings Langley High Street

Hertfordshire high streets and the main shopping areas are often the heart and soul of our towns. A few have thrived over the last ten years but the majority have struggled to fight the rise of online shopping.

Over the last year, it seems a week has not gone by without another well-known high street brand vanishing or dancing with administration. The truth is footfall and sales have been on a downward path for a while and with the impact of the coronavirus shutdown now visible, it is time we had an honest conversion about our high streets.

Hertfordshire high streets are in trouble but don’t blame Covid. Hertfordshire high streets are in trouble but don’t blame internet shopping. Our high streets are in trouble because of YOU!

Hemel Hempstead High Street

We cannot afford for our Hertfordshire High Streets to become ghost towns

The blame lies with you… to an extent

You have changed. You have embraced online shopping. Your tastes have changed. Your habits have changed. Your working hours have changed. Your interests have changed. Your beliefs have changed.

And whilst you have been doing all that, our high streets have not been able to change fast enough, thus leaving us with High Streets and shopping areas that simply are not fit for purpose.

It feels wrong to point fingers but the main reason our high streets are struggling is local councils, landlords, and some larger chains have been far too slow to adapt to the above changes – they just don’t seem to be able to work together.

Very few people go into town to visit one place or purchase one item. Amazon has already won that battle and with ‘voice search’ set to change online shopping’, high street retailers and local councils need to focus on the ‘shopping experience’.

5 important steps to improve our high streets

1. Remove the gauntlet

To many Hertfordshire residents, shopping on our high streets has become somewhat of a gauntlet. Up first is the fight to find a parking space. Then you often have the challenge of not stepping in someone’s food from the night before.

Once you have done that and looked up, you have made eye-contact with a chugger and their clipboard – now your motivation to carry on shopping is now below 50%.

They can be very persistent; making the elderly extremely vulnerable and shoppers avoid areas of town where chuggers operate, which hardly helps local retailers.

Visiting the high street should be a positive experience and the best way to keep it positive is to remove the negative aspects of shopping and they fall into two categories… costs and disruption.

Often intimidating for vulnerable people, street fundraising needs rules

Often intimidating for vulnerable people, street fundraising needs rules

2. Spice it up a bit

This is a tough request but an essential one. Locate shops that complement each other near each other. An example of this would be to have a greengrocers next to a bakery or butchers. Whilst landlords are free to rent to whoever they want, it would be beneficial to shoppers if there were particular areas like the food quarter or beauty quarter.

If shoppers cannot satisfy their needs, all in one place, they are motivated to shop online or find a new location. It should come as no surprise that footfall in out-of-town retail parks has increased.

Pop-up stores also offer some variety and can be great experiences for younger shoppers. The Mercedes Pop-up in The Maltings St Albans was very popular around Christmas.

Mercedes_Maltings_popup

The Mercedes pop up in The Maltings St Albans

3. Flexible hours

The only person allowed to mention 9 to 5 is Dolly Parton. We no longer live in a nine-to-five world and trading hours need to reflect that. There are many people who, with the right motivation would shop before 9am. What kind of motivation? How about free parking before 10am and entertainment hubs for young children?

4. Reward loyalty

I personally would return to the high street weekly if I knew I was being rewarded for it. I would love to see an App that gives me discounts and unique offers. Online shopping has mastered this and I cannot understand why high streets have not adopted it. One app, scan my receipt/screen at point of purchase, get points and get offers. This could be linked to free Wi-Fi indoors and outdoors.

5. Quality Street food

I touched on the idea of having food quarters earlier and this should not be limited to fast food retailers. Street food has dramatically improved over the last five years in terms of quality and variety. Traditional and world food is becoming popular.

Next steps

Some of these ideas have been incorporated but they have been implemented in a reactive fashion. If all the stakeholders worked collaboratively in staying ahead of the curve and predicting shopping trends, we would have vibrant high streets and shopping areas to be proud of.

Lover of all things FAST. If I am not in the office, you can find me near a track or under a car. I also work with great people in TrendLife's Editorial team.

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Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?

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Could this be a big clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage

Regardless of lockdowns and coronavirus, people want food. Fans of Five Guys could be getting a late Christmas present with a new Five Guys in Stevenage. A recent job post on the Five Guys recruitment page for a General Manager in the Stevenage area has got locals excited about the possible arrival of the much loved American Chain.

Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?

Could this be the biggest clue for a Five Guys in Stevenage?

Spotted by an eagled eyed member of ‘Stevenage Chit Chat‘, the advert for a General Manager drops a few clues at a possible opening of a Five Guys in Stevenage.

Google Treasure Map highlighting a empty unit perfect for a Five Guys in Stevenage

Unit 10 appears empty on Google Maps

Clue No.1 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – The perfect scene

Nothing cements a clue in a mystery more than a location. The recruitment team have placed a X on the spot and that is 51°54’02.4″N 0°12’33.7″W. For all the normal people reading this, that is Unit 10 in Stevenage Leisure Park. This was home to Pizza Hut since late 2002 but this recent Google treasure map shows the unit is currently empty.

Clue No.2 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – A job for an ‘accomplice’

Did we mention there is a second job advert for a ‘Assistant Manager? If one job advert was not enough proof, two should be enough to convince you that plans are afoot for a Five Guys in Stevenage.

Clue No.3 for a Five Guys in Stevenage – A motive

What more motive do you need than hungry people in Stevenage in need of a good burger? A Five Guys in Stevenage is well overdue. It could even tempt Sir Lewis Hamilton back to Stevenage.

 

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Canadian restaurant chain Tim Hortons set to open in Milton Keynes

Lee Hall

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Tim Hortons is opening in Milton Keynes soon

Milton Keynes has been chosen by iconic Canadian restaurant brand, Tim Hortons®, to be their first drive-thru site in the South of England. Known for its signature coffee and delicious donuts, Tim Hortons will be opening its first drive-thru in Milton Keynes.

Located in Milton Keynes’ Kingston Centre Retail Park, the drive-thru site will also offer in-store dining. Many locals will not have heard of  Tim Hortons but like another North American chain, Five Guys which launched in the UK in 2013, Tim Hortons is steadily building a fan base.

Tim Hortons in the UK

The first Tim Horton restaurant opened on Argyle Street, Glasgow, in June 2017. Since then, they have grown to 23 stores in the UK with Milton Keynes set to be the first Tim Hortons restaurant in The Three Counties. Leicester City Centre is home to the chain’s flagship store.

Tim Horton’s menu consists of your normal cold and hot beverages, breakfast selection, main meals, and Timmies Minis. Timmies Minis are designed for children with a selection of wraps, melts and sandwichs. We will first in line for the opening of the Milton Keynes’ Tim Hortons and will tell you what’s the best on the menu.

New Jobs in Milton Keynes

, The move is being welcomed locally as it shows confidence in Milton Keynes and will create new jobs in Milton Keynes at a much needed time. The new store opening is set to create 40+ jobs for the local community. These will be a combination of full-time and part-time opportunities.

Kevin Hydes, Chief Commercial Officer of Tim Hortons® franchise in the U.K commented “We are delighted to bring positive news this year to Milton Keynes. We are thrilled to have secured a fantastic location for our most southernly restaurant in England.

Tim Hortons is opening in Milton Keynes soon

 “With our previous openings causing overnight queues and fans travelling from up and down the country, we expect this to be a huge occasion for us. We look forward to engaging with the Milton Keynes community and know this is the start of exciting times to come”.

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Four Fantastic Food Bloggers to follow: October 2020

Lee Hall

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Four Fantastic Food Bloggers to follow: October 2020

The Home Counties is home to some of the finest places to eat in the UK. It is also home to some of the best up-and-coming food bloggers who are pushing food envy to new levels. 2020 has been a unique year and if there is one thing that we as a nation have done right this year, it would be appreciating good food.

We have handpicked four fabulous food bloggers who are worth following. From amazing recipes to insider knowledge of the finest places to dine, these foodies need to be on your feed.

Major_Bites – instagram.com/major_bites/

1. What’s your favourite place to eat?

This is so tricky it’s unbelievable 😅.  If I wanted a takeaway sandwich, it would be @chillibs for their amazing grilled sandwiches. If I had to pick the most amazing fried chicken that looks like it should be in a fine dining restaurant the way it’s served, it would be @chicken_george_jnr. For awesome pub food with roast dinners that are to die for, I would pick @thevichitchin and finally for something baked and naughty, @puddingstop. I’m addicted to there cinnamon buns and their raspberry and white chocolate blondies… oh and their cronuts.

2. Favourite meal/type of food?

This question is as old as time… pasta or pizza 🙈. I’m fully in love with pasta for the varieties of sauces and shapes etc… who doesn’t love a big carb hug with handfuls of cheese and truffle shavings? 🤤 @oldskoolpantry do a proper spaghetti carbonara which is to die for with lots of Parmesan, chunky fresh black pepper and lots of bacon. I equally love a Pizza and it would have to be made by my mentor Adam from @peddlingpizzas who inspired me to start making my own pizzas.

3. Favourite drink?

My go-to in the morning is an Espresso. I do like other coffees too but have had less milky ones of late. @chianaturallyhealthy do an amazing turmeric coconut latte. I love a strong full-bodied red wine such as a Malbec or a Plavic Male from Croatia. Beer and cider is good but I’m a sucker for cocktails especially an Espresso Martini 👌🏼.

4. Most recent/ favourite recipe book bought?

My most recent cookbook was Simply Novelli by @jean_christophe_novelli which I got while I was at Jean Christophe Novelli cookery school.

5. Which food blogger would you recommend following?

@fat.Sam.eats is the king of food porn especially breakfast yolk porn. @artusbbq is a wizard with a bbq as you can imagine. @lickyplate for absolutely everything including good food-related puns.

TrendLife Magazine introduce foodie LydEatsFood : Food Bloggers

Lydeatsfood – instagram.com/lydeatsfood

1. What’s your favourite place to eat?

Bedford is blessed with so many good restaurants that it’s impossible to choose just one! FatCap Smokehouse is always top of my list, real-deal American bbq cooked low n slow to perfection! Bridges Espresso Bar are the new kids on the Bedford foodie scene and they’re already a firm favourite of mine!

2. Favourite meal/type of food?

I haven’t met a cuisine I don’t like yet! Italian food is my favourite, especially my Nonna’s cooking. When I go out to eat, I love street food markets as it means I don’t have to choose one type of food and can eat everything!!

3. Favourite drink?

I’m most partial to a glass of bubbly but can’t say no to a proper Mojito! For a non-alcoholic beverage, I always go for a Diet Coke.

4. Most recent/ favourite recipe book bought?

My favourite cookbook is practically a family heirloom! It is a copy of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management that belonged to my Great Nonna. She was given it when she first moved to England and it is over 100 years old. For a more contemporary cookbook, Ottolenghi is always a winner!

5. Which food blogger would you recommend following?

Make sure to check out my fellow Bedford foodie @teesfusiontable who makes the most amazing food.

TrendLife Magazine introduce foodie daniel_johneats : Food Bloggers

Daniel_JohnEats – instagram.com/daniel_johneats

1. What’s your favourite place to eat?

One of my favourite places in St Albans has to be Tabure. The food is always great and the restaurant always has a good atmosphere. Love trying lots of dishes.

2. Favourite meal/type of food?

This is a hard one but I would say Italian food is my favourite. Though I love brunch food. This is something I make a lot of. Avocado on toast with poached eggs is always a good idea.

3. Favourite drink?

Espresso Martini or a G&T. Rhubarb and ginger gin is is my current favourite flavour.

4. Most recent/ favourite recipe book bought?

When I was last in Berlin I visited a restaurant called House of Small Wonder. Fusion cuisine offering Japanese and European dishes. I brought the Recipes & Stories cookbook and have enjoyed using it a lot.

5. Which food blogger would you recommend following?

So many food bloggers who have amazing content. I would recommend @eat.like.a.foodie who’s home cooking is inspired by their travels.

TrendLife Magazine introduce foodie my_rude_food

My_Rude_Food – instagram.com/my_rude_food

1. What’s your favourite place to eat?

We’re spoilt for choice locally, there are so many gorgeous eateries. In St Albans, I particularly like L’italiano or Lussmanns. But we’ve also got the Alford Arms down the road which is reliably wonderful and if I want steak then I love Prime in Chandlers Cross. I’m not great at choosing just one.

2. Favourite meal/type of food?

Oh dear, I’m already spotting a theme. It’s so tough to choose, I particularly love cooking whole foods from scratch & tend to borrow flavours from around the world depending on my mood. I love a charcuterie board especially at home in front of a fire. On balance I would probably pick Italian food if forced. But I adore Asian food and British obviously.

3. Favourite drink?

What I drink most is water. But if we’re talking alcoholic I love anything with lychee or pear maybe a Bellini or a martini & I’m partial to a glass of Malbec. But probably my favourite is fresh mint tea.

4. Most recent/ favourite recipe book bought?

I’ve got so many but I don’t really follow recipes, I’ve been cooking for over 30 years. I love The flavour thesaurus by Niki Segnit. For inspiration, I probably reach for one my Nigel Slaters or Claudia Roden.

5. Which food blogger would you recommend following?

@90foodie @thefierywhisk & @johnwmacdonald are all really good for inspiration & very friendly.


Four Fantastic Food Bloggers to Follow – September

Each and every month, we will be featuring four new food bloggers to follow. If you are a food blogger and would like to be featured. follow us on Instagram and drop us a DM. Read ‘September’s Four Fantastic Food Bloggers to Follow‘.


Join the #lunchNbloggers movement

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