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



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.


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.



Five shopping & overnight breaks in Hertfordshire before Christmas



Cromwell Hotel Stevenage

Who says you can’t tackle all your Christmas shopping in one go, with a weekend escape thrown in for good measure too? At the risk of panicking you just a little, the countdown to Christmas is well and truly on! Fear not though, as we’ve done the hard work for you and pulled together our top five shop and stay combinations across Hertfordshire that will ensure you’re feeling ready (and most importantly, relaxed) by the time December 25th rolls around…

The Grove Hotel

Christmas shopping at Atria Watford & The Grove Hotel

Believe us when we say that you really need to stay the night to make the most of ticking off that Christmas shopping list at the Atria Watford shopping centre. With an impressive line-up of retail brands and leisure choices you’ll find all you need to put a smile on the face of loved ones this Christmas under one roof. What’s more, once you’ve finished treating everyone else, pamper yourself with a night of luxury at The Grove Hotel. Set in 300 acres of countryside, and only 10-minutes’ drive from Atria Watford, this is just the pre-Christmas treat you deserve! Winter in Watford…

Atria Watford:
The Grove Hotel:

St Albans Market

St Albans busy market sits in the middle of a selection of boutique stores

Christmas shopping in St Albans’ boutique stores & Aubrey Park Hotel

After a long day Christmas Shopping in the wonderful boutique stores around St Albans, wouldn’t it be nice not to have to rush straight home, and indulge a little instead? If you are laden with shopping bags, why not take a short drive and spend the night in one of Aubrey Park Hotel’s cosy rooms? Treat yourself to an early Christmas present by upgrading to their plush suites for a dreamy winter staycation in the festive period. Feeling seasonal St Albans!

Enjoy St Albans:

Aubrey Park Hotel:

Christmas in The Galleria Shopping Centre & Hanbury Manor Hotel

After a busy day stocking up on seasonal treats at The Galleria Shopping Centre in Welwyn, head North where you’ll find Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club dressed in its festive finery, ready to welcome you in for a winter escape! Indulge in a fireside afternoon tea, escape to the spa for a few hours, or simply wrap up warm and head out to enjoy one of the many walking routes on site. Hello Hanbury…

The Galleria Shopping Centre:

Hanbury Manor Hotel:

Christmas in Westgate Shopping Centre & Cromwell Hotel

Enjoy a full festive programme at Westgate Shopping Centre this season, including late night shopping events, and even the chance to meet Santa in his Grotto! And with so much going on to wear out little ones, you needn’t head far for a place to rest your head for the night. Just five-minutes away, relax in one of the beautifully decorated rooms at Hotel Cromwell. This attractive hotel in the heart of Old Town Stevenage boasts stylish decor that perfectly complements the character still in evidence from its former times. Check-in to Cromwell…

Westgate Shopping Centre:

Hotel Cromwell, Stevenage:

Pendley Manor Hotel

Pendley Manor Hotel

Christmas on Tring High Street & Pendley Manor Hotel

Nestled just a stone’s throw from the picturesque market town of Tring, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome when you check into charming Pendley Manor hotel this winter. Before settling in for a cosy night’s stay, why not make a pit-stop and enjoy a meander through Tring’s high street with its wealth of independently run shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants? The perfect opportunity to support the town’s local businesses and pick up some unique, handcrafted gifts for loved ones!

Tring Together:

Pendley Manor:

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A definitive guide to what’s on in St Albans this Christmas



A definitive guide to what's on in St Albans this Christmas

Enjoy a magical day out in St Albans this Christmas where you’ll find lots of fun festive events for all ages to cherish. Why not ‘crack two nuts with one nutcracker’ and pick up some wonderful Christmas gifts from an array of eclectic independent shops and top high-street retailers – and take a well-earned rest in one of the many outstanding eateries offering superb festive fare. So, wrap up warm and enjoy the buzz of St Albans this festive season…

Here’s what’s on in St Albans this Christmas:

What's happening in St Albans this Christmas - Nutcracker soldier and Cathedral

Complete the trail and get the chance to win a £250 Enjoy St Albans Gift Card

The Nutcracker Christmas Trail

The whole family will love getting involved in this trail and will discover some interesting facts about St Albans along the way, whilst enjoying the beautiful sights of the city.

Nutcracker’s may actually look a little scary but according to German folklore, they represent power and strength, bare their teeth to evil spirits and serve as the traditional messenger of good luck and goodwill.

Find your free Nutcracker Trail map in town or view it online (here) and then wander around the city and district to find 15 Nutcracker Soldiers. The map tells you the location of the soldiers and as you find each one, write his name down on the Trail Sheet. Once you’ve found all of the names, fill in your details and post it into Santa’s postbox, which is also marked on the map. First prize is a £250 St Albans Gift Card, plus two runners-up will each receive a £50 St Albans Gift Card.

Go nuts for this fun family Christmas trail from 21st November 2021 until 4th January 2022.


Wonder at the vibrant and beautiful artworks created by local St Albans artists at this outside pop-up public art exhibition. The community arts initiative with Collective Gallery aims to enhance the city centre and make art inclusive for all, giving people joy in the most unexpected of places.
Throughout December, City Centre, Parklets, Museum Railings 

Covent Garden Street Performers

Bringing the magic and theatre of Covent Garden to St Albans. You might just bump into these outrageously funny and brilliant street acts as you wander around town, who knows where they’ll pop up- watch out for the toy soldiers and trees on stilts.

Christmas installations provide the perfect opportunity for a picture

Christmas Installations

Incredible Christmas lights and animation installations dotted across St Albans town centre will bring fun and joy to all folk across the festive period- and provide the perfect opportunity for a fabulous Instagram picture too.

Christmas Carol Concerts

A number of special festive events will be taking place at St Albans Cathedral this winter. Including The Hospice of St Francis concert, a magical afternoon of popular carols, guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit. With special performances from talented local choirs, the hour and 15-minute concert will feature a mix of solo recitals, thoughtful festive readings and plenty of opportunity for merry audience participation. Standard tickets cost £12.

Live Street Entertainment

Wrap up warm and enjoy festive family fun when a variety of fantastic theatre productions come to town. Innovative and interactive live theatre performances from Trestle Theatre and Booster Cushion Street Theatre. 7th, 10th, 12 December (Trestle) & 23rd December (Booster Cushion), Outside The Museum + Gallery. 

Santa's Post Office - Make memories when Santa's ‘official' and busy Post Office comes to town

Enjoyment for the whole family at Santa’s Post Office © Kate Lindeman

Santa’s Post Office

Make memories when Santa’s ‘official’ and busy Post Office comes to town. The space is beautifully decorated to get everyone in the Christmas spirit, children can write a letter to Santa, enjoy Christmassy arts and crafts and interactive family games and fun. Every day from 21st November to 24th December 11am-4pm, old Cath Kidson shop, Christopher Place.

Santa’s Post Boxes Fun and wonder for little ones when they write a letter to Santa and post it in one of the special post boxes located around town – watch the delight on their faces when they receive a reply from the Big Man himself. There’s also the chance to win a £100 St Albans Gift Card. 21st November – 4th January, Fleetville Larder, Cositas, Eyes on St Albans, Alban Arena

Charity Postbox Topper Trail is popular with locals and visitors and raises thousands for charity

Charity Postbox Topper Trail is popular with locals and visitors and raises thousands for charity

 St Albans Postbox Toppers Charity Trail Discover 82 postbox toppers that have been handcrafted by a team of dedicated volunteer yarn-bombers with designs including everything from Nativity scenes to Snowmen wearing colour-blind glasses. The trail is one of the biggest fundraising initiatives in St Albans that has raised over £64,000 for local charities. Search for ‘EYES on St Albans’ in your App store to download the App, enjoy the trail, donate and scan to win prizes and follow the Facebook page for more.

Denise Parsons Manager of St Albans BID

Manager of St Albans BID, Denise Parsons says:

“St Albans is the perfect winter destination for family fun, entertainment and Christmas shopping. We have an eclectic mix of independent shops, big-name retail outlets and of course, our famous Charter and Pop-Up Markets all alongside our fantastic pubs and eateries.

“It’s incredibly important for people to shop local this festive season and our TV ad and detailed Christmas Gift Guide will help locals and visitors to the make the most of their time shopping in our wonderful city. Our St Albans Gift Card also helps to support local businesses and is perfect for Christmas- as a stocking filler, a handy last-minute gift and it’s perfect for the person who is hard to buy for… and we all know one or two of those!”


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A brand-new restaurant Going Greek arrives in Borehamwood



A brand-new restaurant arrives in Borehamwood as Going Greek opens its doors.

Going Greek, a renowned London restaurant chain, are delighted to be opening their fifth venue in Borehamwood. As they’re known for their authenticity, delicious creations, and family-friendly feel; Going Greek’s new restaurant is set to become an unmissable food destination for the local community.

On Tuesday 9th November 2021 at 12pm, Going Greek’s Borehamwood branch will open its doors. Giving visitors exciting treats as they explore this new venue and all of the renowned dishes Going Greek have created, the day promises to be an exciting event for nearby residents and visitors alike.

Going Greek’s extensive menu includes a wide range of sharing plates, including hand-cut feta chips, tahini, hummus, grilled halloumi, and kalamata olives, alongside mouth-watering gyros, souvlaki, Cypriot kebabs, homely dishes, and desserts. Meanwhile, guests can enjoy authentic Greek beers; enjoying a variety of traditional offerings.

The team behind Going Greek create exciting options for the entire family. When visiting, customers become immersed in Greek culture and wonderful flavours, enjoying a well-rounded, unique dining experience. Similarly, at Going Greek customer service is of the utmost importance; they strive to exceed expectations in terms of not only flavour, but customer satisfaction – ensuring every customer leaves with a smile.

Going Greek Borehamwood

Going Greek are now delighted to be opening a branch in Borehamwood, a lovely area with endless potential for growing businesses. Discussing this opening, Going Greek’s owner, Charlie Menegatos, who uses his heritage to enrich the restaurant’s classic dishes, has said:

‘We are thrilled to be opening our fifth branch in Borehamwood. We’ve been busy mingling with the area’s locals already and we can’t wait to start serving our famous Greek food! We are all incredibly passionate about what we do and the quality of the food we create, so we know our dishes will be hits.’

A brand-new restaurant arrives in Borehamwood as Going Greek opens its doors.

Going Greek Opening

Going Greek’s new Borehamwood location will be open from 12pm-10pm Monday-Friday. Their talented team of chefs and hospitality staff are eager to get started and cannot wait to join this flourishing community.

Going Greek Borehamwood address

Going Greek
30 Shenley Rd

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