With 2023 set to be a challenging economic climate, consumer-facing hospitality, retail and leisure businesses with clear differentiators will be the ones that continue to attract custom and stay most competitive. Tapping into what appeals to customers is, therefore, going to be more important than ever.
One big attraction for customers is being outdoors. The public’s appetite for the outdoors grew strongly during the Covid pandemic and this has not diminished significantly as trends in hospitality, catering, retail, leisure and tourism demonstrate.
Major public events in town and city centres, such as the Christmas markets in Lincoln and Manchester, draw thousands of people over many weeks, and the proliferation of outdoor dining areas and rooftop bars in our towns and cities shows just how much people are attracted to socialising with friends and family when they can do it outdoors.
Will events and businesses that have tapped into the public’s outdoor appetite continue to thrive in a downturn? Nobody has a crystal ball, but it could be argued that they will be better placed to weather the storm compared to those that don’t.
While it might not be right for every business, investing in under-used or undeveloped outdoor spaces in 2023 could make good commercial sense. These sites have the potential to boost footfall providing that they have been developed in a way that makes them fully functional.
Courtyards, gardens, paved areas, storage yards and lawned areas can be transformed into useable, revenue-generating spaces with the right strategy. Consider how the space could be developed – could it be additional tables for food and drink, a space for setting up a stage for live music, or a larger area where an outdoor market could be hosted?
One of the most important factors in unlocking the potential of a site is to install access to power as and when it is needed. But rather than relying on hired generators, which can be expensive and noisy, or running lengthy trailing cables from adjacent buildings, the best long term strategy is to install a permanent power infrastructure using safe, secure in-ground, pop-up or bollard power units.
These outdoor power units are available from UK company Pop Up Power Supplies®. The idea behind them is simple – to give site operators and authorised personnel a way to connect to an electricity supply, as well as water if required, when events are staged, or equipment needs to be operated. The units are ‘there when you need them, hidden when you don’t’.
A retractable, pop-up unit raises from the ground when it is needed, and it is returned to its submerged position when not in use. The in-ground unit is permanently submerged and accessed via a flip-lid, which also allows for power to be fed to site users when the lid is locked down for additional safety. Both units are usually only noticeable by their lids when not in use and this can be designed to match the surrounding surface too.
The third option is bollard with a lockable cover that is opened for access to the power sockets. These are elegantly designed with five different tops so make a visually interesting feature for any site, integrating neatly with other street furniture.