Making sure Wilton Village Shopping is the main event
Despite what the newspapers may say, bricks and mortar shopping is still big business.
Research published by Intu and YouGov in 2016 showed that shopping is the third most popular leisure activity for British people, just after watching TV and going for a meal out.
But that’s not to say that how people shop hasn’t changed. With internet shopping offering such a transactional and perfunctory way of purchasing, people are increasingly looking for something a little different when they visit a store in person. They don’t just want to buy things, they want an experience. At Wilton Village Shopping that’s exactly what we’re giving them via our extensive programme of footfall-grabbing, free-to-attend events…
Output = fun, input = shoppers
At Easter, we teamed up with the team at www.kidsrome.co.ukto run a petting zooin the courtyard as part of a family fun day – something that was enjoyed by children and grown-ups alike. In May, with the shopping village already a big draw for crafters thanks to our resident knitting shop Annie’s Out of Housewe hosted our annual Spring Craft Fair, bursting to the seams with a fantastic selection of local artisans and makers displaying their wares. In July, we stepped back in time and targeted retro clothing and style aficionados with our ‘A Very Vintage Sunday’ event, which had everything from swing and Charleston dance classes to vintage hair style tutorials, all set to the music of local jazz singer Sandy Ince AKA Sticky Toffee Jazz, who performed retro tunes made famous by the likes of Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Ella FitzGerald.
Big screen. Big appeal
In May, with the whole world’s eyes on the UK as Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, we hosted our very own right royal garden party. Filling the central courtyard with deckchairs so our visitors could kick back and watch the happy couple’s nuptials on our big screen, we also added a truly British spin on proceedings with Union Jack bunting galore and strawberries and cream for visitors to enjoy. Later on in the Summer, in July, our big screen made another appearance when we put on a similar event to enable our shoppers to enjoy Wimbledon and in August, the silver screen came to Wilton Shopping Village once more as we ran our popular ‘Pop Up Cinema Club’ showing recently released films such as Peter Rabbit, The Greatest Showman and perennial favourite Grease.
Undoubtedly though, the jewel in this year’s events crown was the inaugural, sell-out Wilton Shopping Village Gin Festival. Boasting live music and packed with stalls selling locally sourced food and – of course – a great selection of gin bars and local gin distilleries, the event was hugely popular. In fact our visitors – all of whom received a souvenir branded goblet and goodie bag – almost immediately took to social media to ask us to run the event again next year (which, of course, we intend to).
And while the dark nights may be setting in, our events calendar is still shining bright, with upcoming events including the Cobbs Family Fun Day Out– complete with free baby massage, baby yoga, rhyme time, face painting and crafts sessions – and a fashion show with the Edinburgh Woollen Mill. And of course, ahead of the all-important festive period, we’re already planning for our usual seasonal celebrations packed with mince pies, mulled wine and often an appearance from Father Christmas himself at our ever popular Christmas light switch-on event and Christmas Gifts and Crafts Fair.
All of these events pull their weight in terms of driving footfall to the site, increasing dwell time and raising awareness of our offering, but they do so much more than that. They help us to build relationships with our shoppers and establish Wilton Village Shopping as a much-loved part of the local community. They’re also great for PR. Not only do many of our events regularly attract the local media, but the content we put out about them generates a great many clicks and likes. Videos of our events his year have so far generated 89,000 views and with a total social media reach of over 500,000 – all of which helps raise awareness of Wilton Village Shopping as a retail destination.
These events are just the cherry on top of an already considerable offering. Home of the historic Wilton Carpet Factory, we are a destination shopping on the banks of the River Wylye – just three miles west of Salisbury. There are 1.6 million people within a 60 minute drive time, hailing from affluent areas like West Wiltshire, Salisbury, Ringwood, Warminster and Shaftsbury (and some of our events are attracting shoppers from Bournemouth, Southampton and beyond).
With our location, existing retailers and an enthusiastic team who really understand how ‘retailment’ can help boost the bottom line for our retail partners, we have the edge over other similar shopping centres which demonstrate a much more ‘hands off’ attitude to attracting footfall.