Just another Manic Monday…

30 11 2009

So, how have you spent today? Been Internet shopping by any chance? Well, if not you’ll be in the minority as today is supposedly one of the biggest days for e-commerce, with virtual tills ringing to the tune of over 700 sales per minute. ‘Manic Monday’ (or Cyber Monday in some circles) is set to see the busiest day for online Christmas shopping, but how realistic is it to assume that everyone has deserted the high street and opted for online browsing?

Well, a poll by Zavvi (comments about their high street closure can be inserted here) showed that more than 81% of Brits are planning to do their Christmas shopping online, and this has already started with last week’s sales figures showing a surge in online gift purchases.

There has undoubtedly been a rise in popular high street stores developing e-commerce sites; from Topshop and Harvey Nichols to Currys and Argos, you no longer need to leave the house. Apparently. There has also been a trend in online shopping ‘malls’, as I like to describe them, with Net-A-Porter and ASOS leading the way.

But what I have always remained adamant about it is that the ease and convenience of the online world can never be a substitute for a girly shopping trip or the way a gorgeous Marc Jacobs bag feels in the flesh. And whilst I still remain a fan of the ‘tangible’, online retailers are making moves to change my mind.

This kind of shopping is no longer just about the convenience or finding the best price – although that is particularly important in the current climate – but instead it has become a reason for using and developing social media.

There are several sites that are helping shoppers create an exciting online experience; like ASOS Life, an online community that share fashion advice and shop virtual stores; Style Hive, a place for likeminded fashionistas to share style tips; and My It Things, where users create their own online magazine. There are also true virtual stores (touching on the Second Life ideals), like I Like Totally Love It and Gemsta.

One site that I really like is OSOYOU, where you can shop a range of popular stores but more importantly, compare prices and make shopping lists to help drive you around the real high street. This is where I think the opportunity is; rather than retailers hanging up their till receipts and giving in to online shopping, I think they should be using the internet as an opportunity to drive more people into their stores.

No doubt retailers are starting to fight back, with discount vouchers landing in my Twitter stream and inbox on an hourly basis from various friends passing them around, but I think there’s still more they can do. An example (an easy one for me to quote because I’m working on it) is Style Birmingham’s latest campaign, which aims to do just this. This Christmas is all about ‘One Mile of Style’, which revolves around an interactive map that shoppers can use to explore the city’s retail offering on their computer. They can find out more about the festive activities taking place at key retailers, print the map off and use it to deviate from their usual shops and get to know the city’s hidden gems. The new iPhone app – the first of its kind – also aims to bridge these two worlds and ensure the longevity of the high street.

So, basically I don’t have a massive, life-changing point, I just wanted to stick up for the high street and say that there’s still life in the old boy yet!

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Christmastime, mistletoe and wine… oh and shopping!

18 11 2009


Image Credit

Before you all start, yes I know I have just got back from New York but I’m not talking those holidays; I’m talking about Christmas.

This week, I have been feeling particularly festive having just got back from The Big Apple, where the ice rinks and Christmas trees are set and ready for the festive season and Macy’s infamous windows are lining 34th Street. Even better, when I arrived home from the airport, I turned on the TV and saw the Coca Cola advert, which to me always means the official start to Christmas.

Further fuelling my Christmas Spirit, the German Market is back in Birmingham and bigger than ever. Tonight I had my first trip to said market, and one of my lovely Twitter friends (@danofftheradio) told me about the Hot Chocolate with Jagermeister. Now, two of my favourite things in the world are chocolate and Jager so to put them together was always going to be a winner with me, but it really was a taste sensation!  Luckily, the German Market always encourages Birmingham’s social crowd to meet, at every available opportunity, for some Bratwurst and Gluhwein so I’ll be partaking in plenty of alcoholic chocolate!

Apart from the amazing market, one of the other brilliant things about Christmas is of course, shopping. Not that I need much encouraging – I like to use working on Style Birmingham as an excuse to shop as much as possible (research!) – but nothing beats shopping for presents! We are all too aware that this will be a difficult year with the dreaded recession, but I think that retailers are really pulling out the stops to make sure we all keep spending; after all, that’s the only way to keep the economy going.

Birmingham’s retailers are no exception and have some exciting things happening over the festive season… make sure you check them out!

Shopping Events

Debenhams is offering 25% off across all departments in their Christmas Spectacular Sale! From Wednesday 18th November – Saturday 21st November, you can stock up on presents and bag yourself some goodies too. There is also 10% off beauty and cosmetics.

On Thursday 19th November, House of Fraser is holding a ‘Prepare to Party Fragrance event’ on the ground floor. Join them in-store for top tips on looking great this Christmas; during the day Mugler will be holding fragrance workshops and from 5pm, DIOR’s visiting make-up artist will be showing everyone the hottest party looks. To RSVP, email Birmingham@hof.co.uk.

I’ve also heard on the grapevine, there’s a special two-day discount event the following Thursday and Friday.

Brilliantly Birmingham Pop-Up Shop

Opening on 5 December until Christmas Eve, Pavilions will host a special jewellery pop-up shop. The temporary boutique will give you the chance to buy original hand-crafted jewellery, meet local designers and commission bespoke pieces. There will be pieces for men and women, and for all budgets.

Festive Families

Christmas is all about the family and Pallasades is certainly spreading the Christmas Spirit. As well as hosting Birmingham’s biggest grotto, the shopping centre has also teamed up with a number of top local attractions including Sea Life Centre, Cadbury World, Thinktank, Black Country Museum and Dudley Zoo. By spending just £10 at any or a combination of stores at the centre and showing the receipt/s, shoppers can get a special discount book.

Taste Sensations

As well as the aforementioned German treats, retailers are also looking to tantalise your tastebuds. Bullring have a Ferrero Rocher Christmas Tree (yes, heaven) and Harvey Nichols has opened their pop-up gift shop in The Mailbox, which includes a range of seasonal treats. Harvey Nics will be holding a Festive Fete on 30 November in the store, where you can enjoy the finest food and wine, create bespoke hampers and get your gift-buying sorted. Tickets are complimentary and limited spaces for the Fancy Nancy session will be offered on a first come first served basis. For more information and to book your tickets contact the Harvey Nichols Foodmarket on 0121 616 6000.

He’s Behind You…

And don’t forget about Selfridges, who will be bringing Panto to the high street. During December there will be some very special panto-related treats, so make sure you’re around to enjoy them.

I have plenty more to tell you about Style Birmingham’s plans for Christmas, but I’ll leave them for another time. For now, go and enjoy some Bratwurst and get shopping!