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

Lee Hall



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.



The Hub Milton Keynes hosts our May #lunchNbloggers event

Lee Hall



The Hub Milton Keynes Host #lunchNbloggers for the first time

The TrendLife Magazine team are excited to announce that #lunchNbloggers is back. We have been working hard to plan something special for our first post-lockdown event so we are happy to say we have chosen The Hub Milton Keynes.

This #lunchNbloggers will be the first event that features over five dining experiences as we discover all what The Hub has to offer. Located in the heart of Milton Keynes between Midsummer Boulevard and Avebury Boulevard, The Hub is home to a wide range of popular restaurants, bars and hotels.

The Hub Milton Keynes Host #lunchNbloggers for the first time

What to expect when #lunchNbloggers arrives at The Hub Milton Keynes

As part of The Hub #lunchNbloggers experience, we will sampling and experiencing some of the most popular dining destinations in Milton Keynes

  • Bogata – We will be starting with a Meet & Great at Milton Keynes’ first speciality coffee shop
  • Las Iguanas – Join us as we sample a slice of the Latin life which is on offer at The Hub
  • Turtle Bay – A bottomless brunch of Caribbean inspired dishes at Turtle Bay is next on the menu
  • Banana Tree – At the fabulous Banana Tree, we will be experiencing Japanese style private dining
  • Blossom Room – Sticking with the Japanese theme, we will be ending the night in style at the fabulous Blossom Room. Make sure you charge your phone for those instagram stories.

As with all our #lunchNbloggers events, the masterclass is always something special and we have arranged a Yoga masterclass with a twist at Sweat Studios. Chill out, stretch out or work out – it is your choice. As with all our masterclasses, everything you need will be provided.

The #lunchNbloggers Team at Harben House

About The Hub Milton Keynes

The Hub is a vibrant restaurant, cafe, hotel and lifestyle quarter in the very heart of Milton Keynes.

Register for #lunchNbloggers

#lunchNbloggers has always been and will remain FREE to attend. We occasionally ask for a small deposit to ensure those who are selected attend notify us in advance so we can offer this exclusive opportunity to another member of the #lunchNbloggers team. To register for this event, please complete the form below and remember to follow us on instagram for updates.


Thursday 27th May 2021
From Midday until late.

If you wish to attend but cannot take part in the Yoga masterclass, please let us know when you register.


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Why it could be time stop dieting & consider what you consume…

Emily Collins



Why it could be time stop dieting & consider what you consume...

We’ve tried them all haven’t we? Atkins, Paleo, Keto and if you’re a certain age then maybe the Cabbage Soup Diet. But do any of them keep weight off in the long term? In most cases, the answer is sadly, no. They may provide a short-term fix, but in the longer term the scales will slowly creep back up again.

In fact, evidence shows that dieting is linked with a higher risk of gaining weight. Many of you will know from bitter experience that you go on a diet, you lose some weight, you don’t feel great as you’re denying yourself certain food groups, or foods you love and then when you return to your normal way of eating, the pounds creep back on again.

Why it could be time for you to stop dieting

Why it could be time stop dieting & consider what you consume…

This is why we need to reframe how we see a ‘diet’. When you look the word ‘diet’ up in the dictionary, the first meaning is ‘The food and drink we consume on a daily basis’ and the second meaning is ‘a limited amount of food we eat for medical reasons or to lose weight’. If we were to focus on the first meaning and embark on a diet that is for life and which provides us with all the nutrients we need to thrive then we’d have much less need to focus on the second meaning.

A great way to assess if your current way of eating is the best one for you, is to ask yourself if you’d be content eating the way you do now in two years’ time? if the answer is no, then it’s time to make some changes and discover your diet for life.

We also mustn’t forget that one size won’t fit all when it comes to a diet for life. We don’t all respond in the same way to the calories we consume and we don’t all undertake the same amount of daily movement or have the same metabolism. What works for one person may not work for another and this is why taking an individualised approach works much better.

It’s also important to not look at one factor in isolation, for example, stress, sleep and movement all impact upon our weight and our energy and if we only look at what we are eating then we may not achieve our goals as quickly.



If you’d like start your journey towards a diet for life, then why not book one of my 30-minute Vitality Review Consultations? We can talk about your health goals and discuss some tips for changing your diet and lifestyle so that you can find an energetic, healthy version of you who can thrive in life.

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St Albans favourites deny rumours of new High Street in the sky

Lee Hall



New St Albans High Street

Late on Tuesday night, three high profile businesses in St Albans were forced to release statements denying involvement in the launch of a Super High Street above St Albans.

Three of the so called St Albans ‘Big Six’ – Chloe James Lifestyle, Must Wine Bar and Mad Squirrel – have all put out statements denying rumours they plan to create a new St Albans High. The remaining three are expected to make statements in the next 24 hours.

The announcement of a new St Albans High Street has caused enormous uproar across Hertfordshire and beyond, with near universal disbelief from shoppers, local residents and politicians – including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Unconfirmed plans suggest a monorail system will be constructed to take shoppers from the iconic clock tower to the yet-to-be confirmed new St Albans High Street somewhere above St Albans Cathedral.

New St Albans High Street

Entrance to St Albans’ proposed new Super High Street

Donna Nichol, owner of the popular independent fashion store Chloe James Lifestyle has issued a statement.

I have absolutely no idea where this has come from and ironically, I cannot see it getting off the ground. We have been welcoming back our customers and have enjoyed the buzz of a busy shop. Why would I want to move my store 30 feet above St Albans?

I have just recently updated the shop window with a new French brand called FRNCH – how will anyone see it? Ignore the rumours and find us where we have been keeping St Albans fashionable for the last ten years.

Chloe James Lifestyle prepares for lockdown reopening

Mad Squirrel St Albans have also put out a strong worded statement in response to news of the Super High Street. General Manager James has gone on record and said “Of the 25 beers we have on tap, nothing is that strong”.

We have been here in St Albans for almost two years and whilst we are accustomed to hearing the occasional bit of nonsense in the taproom, this idea is farcical. Beer and heights don’t mix so we will remain on the ground floor of St Albans in Heritage Close serving the finest beers to St Albans residents.”

Mad Squirrel has quickly established itself as one of the predominant beer destinations in St Albans. With access from the footpath towards the Abbey, it would seem a strange decision from management but when you are around beer all day, anything can happen.

Mad Squirrel St Albans

Mad Squirrel staff claimed to not have seen the plans

Local resident Isabelle Ringing who we interviewed shopping in St Albans said the idea was nonsense. “St Albans is unique and residents love it the way it is. Why? a monorail? I just can’t get my head around it – we don’t need this nonsense in St Albans.”

Have a glass or two at Must Wine Bar Harpenden

Must Wine located on George Street were also quick to release a statement in regards to the rumours. Wine Steward and c0-owner Mike Nuttall explained, “I get the idea – great minds drink alike and the concept of tasting the finest wines with breathtaking views of Hertfordshire is idyllic.

However, the individual who came up with the pour decision of running a monorail above St Albans is clearly on cloud wine.” Must Wine will continue run wine tasting classes on George Street.

As these rumours of a break-away high street continue to spread, the TrendLife team will continue to keep you updated with facts instead of fiction.

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