The beautiful cathedral city of Gloucester could showcase the future of retail following £400,000 of funding secured by the city’s destination marketing organisation, Marketing Gloucester, and the county’s local enterprise partnership, GFirst LEP.
A new national centre for digital retail innovation will be located across the first floor of the city’s Eastgate Shopping centre.
The UK Digital Retail innovation Centre (UK:DRIC) will be the national centre for testing and developing disruptive digital innovations, where retail entrepreneurs can engage with shoppers to test out their technologies – from robot assistants to 360 degree virtual mirrors.
Jason Smith, Chief Executive at Marketing Gloucester, said: “There are huge challenges facing the UK retail sector and the UK Digital Retail Innovation Centre has the potential to be a gamechanger which could have a national impact.”
Interestingly, independent shops saw an increase of 762 shops (27%) in the first half of 2017, according to the British Independent Retailers Association. Chain retailers have also remained in decline with a net loss of 659 shops (33%) across the UK.
According to Maybe, a company aiming to connect shoppers to retailers through all technologies which has launched a Digital Influence Index of UK towns and cities, Gloucester has been ranked 11 out of 1300 towns surveyed. Top of the Maybe leaderboard is, naturally, London, with Nottingham in second place and Edinburgh in third.