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UK's high streets are getting a digital makeover

Businesses and the UK Government are coming together to make UK high streets most digitally engaged in the world, it was announced on Thursday. Town Centre, Business Improvement District Managers and various businesses, retailers, leisure centres and libraries will get strategic advice, measurement, digital toolkits and hands-on digital training, the announcement reads.

Home Retail Group CEO John Walden, IBM, Boots UK, Cisco, Google, Post Office, Lloyds Banking Group and Facebook, together with High Streets Minister Marcus Jones, Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey and Anna Soubry, the Business Minister have joined forces to bring to life The Great British Digital High Street Hub, a project which will nationally be launched in Spring 2017.

Before that, it will be ‘blazing a trail’ in Cheltenham and Gloucester from April, and then gradually start rolling out across the UK during 2016. Once the rollout is complete, the project will kick off.

Phase one will start in April and will run until September 2016, it was announced. It will be initiated by GFirst, the Gloucestershire LEP, in partnership with the local partnerships in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

“Due to the spread of online commerce and services, modern consumers are often more digitally capable than the places they visit. This has resulted in less consumer satisfaction with town centres, eroding both their economic and social viability,” said John Walden, chairman of the Digital High Street Board and CEO of Home Retail Group, owner of Argos.

“The potential for communities and local economies to reap the benefits of digital is not being realised. The High Street Digital Hub trials will help participating high street stakeholders take full advantage of the digital revolution to create a vibrant, attractive and engaging experience for all and validate the approaches that can effectively scale these advantages to other high streets throughout the UK.”

Image source: Shutterstock/Pavel L