Pop in Debates – the High Street

Exclusive debates run by Rethinking Cities and University of Greenwich Organised by Andrew Stuck and Dr Noha Nasser

Our next debate will take place at the Deptford Lounge with future debates taking place at other high street locations across London.Deptford has claims to London’s most diverse shopping street, offering three different markets and a range of independent stores, pop in galleries and restaurants and now a dramatic new library building, the Deptford Lounge.

The shopping ‘experience’, as we know it, is changing. On-line shopping is gaining a greater share of consumer spending and High Streets are quickly losing custom. Mega malls and the exploitation of the convenience store market by large supermarket chains are also contributing to the decay of high street shopping experiences. Even though shopping malls and out-of-town centres remain popular, their lack of spontaneity and impromptu experiences can never equal what the High Street can offer. However, there may be a glimmer of hope.  Temporary shops, market stalls and a diverse mix of offers is proving successful in some areas.  Can such a POP-UP experience offer a creative future to animate High Streets and sustain the core of our towns and neighbourhood centres?

Planned spontaneity and ‘massclusivity’ are terms that define the POP-UP experience where one-off shopping spaces to mobile units come and go to draw in the crowds and add a sense of surprise, exclusivity and attraction to run down High Streets. But the POP-UP experience is not the sole preserve of retail experiences. They can cover a whole host of other activities as this series of refreshing debates demonstrate.

Have we lost our way to the High Street or has the High Street lost its purpose? Join cutting edge social-entrepreneurs, game-changers, and creative practitioners to discover if the POP-UP Experience holds the answer.

The debate asks 12 questions:

  1. Is the High Street relevant any more? Has it lost its purpose?
  2. Who uses High Streets, when and why?
  3. Is a high street just for shopping? Or can POP-UPs be used for other recreational, creative, cultural, learning, healthy and democratic uses to start-up the local economy? Exploring diversity
  4. Would greater diversity of POP-UP activities in the High Street increase footfall?
  5. Do POP-UP spaces in the high street compete with other temporary or impromptu uses like street markets?
  6. Can High streets give people great ‘experiences’, a sense of belonging, and good value in an austerity economy?
  7. Can High Street retailers learn from existing POP-UPs from diverse cultures in Britain?
  8. Can POP-UPs help High Streets open for longer and stay safer?
  9. Can the High Street compete with existing on-line shopping smart information systems and SoLoMo (social Media, Local on Line, and Mobile Platform) technologies?
  10. Can Pop Ups and Smart shoppers offer a launch pad for a new generation of High Street retailers?
  11. Whose responsibility is it to animate and diversify the offer in high streets?
  12. What incentives for POP-UPs should exist to encourage more consumer loyalty and developers / landowners to create conditions for a start-up High Street economy?

For personal circumstances, this debate in Deptford had to be cancelled – how many of the questions asked will not be satisfactorily answered at any time in the near future?

This article first appeared on the Rethinking Cities website