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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Did the Shopping Challenge in Love Milford Week Work?

In conjunction with all the celebrations during Love Milford Week there was the fun, yet serious activity of the 'Shopping Challenge' which was designed to boost the trade of the village shops and eateries. 

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February was chosen to hold Love Milford Week as this is a particularly tough time of the year for our village shops. It was also seen as important to hold the event during the school half-term in order for the local kids to be involved in the numerous activities. This bought us close to Valentine's Day - hence a further link to the event name: 'Love Milford Week'.

For a village of just 5000 people, we are fortunate to have such a wonderful array of shops and places to eat. So, core to Love Milford Week was the 'Shopping Challenge', where we aimed for people to explore shops and eateries they may not normally use, to discover what is on their doorstep all year round.

Shopping Challenge and Free Prize Draw

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The concept was simple; everyone was challenged to only shop in the village during Love Milford Week - No visits to large stores, no cheating, just spending time showing the shops you love them!

To support the event, many of our village shops & eateries ran exclusive promotions throughout the week, giving people a great reason to stay out of their cars to enjoy shopping around the village. The offers were publicised by individual posters in the shops. There were also large Love Milford Week banners, signs and flags around the village, together with 8000 printed programmes.

Prior to the start of Love Milford Week it was clear that many villagers were preparing to actively take part and enjoy themselves throughout the week.

There was also a Free £50 Prize Draw (10 x £50 prizes were funded by Food Week), whereby every time anyone visited any shop or eatery they were given a Free Prize Draw ticket, which they then completed and returned to the entry boxes in strategic places around the village. The idea of only have a limited number of entry boxes was to encourage people to visit shops or eateries they not normally go to.

Ultimately, there were over 2000 Free Prize Draw tickets completed and entered by shoppers.

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The Free Prize Draw winners were asked to select One Village Shop/CafĂ©/Restaurant or Milford on Sea Tradesmen/Home Business. The £50 was then given to whoever they selected in the village, and the winner then visited them to spend the money. This structure ensured that all the prize money stayed within the businesses in the village.

In spite of a couple of nasty rainy days, the village was noticeably busier during Love Milford Week. (Some shopkeepers recalled that the equivalent half-term week last year was fine and dry.) Throughout the week a wide variety of events took place which bought people into the village, and on the Saturday a 'Busking on the Green' event was held featuring local musicians. The Saturday weather was good and this added atmosphere throughout the day, creating smiling faces and a reason to stay shopping in the village.

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Christine from Inger Lise's Coffee Shop commented; "Love Milford Week was a roaring success. As well as all the visitors for half term week, we definitely had more locals coming in and supporting us. When they came in, it was for more than just a cup of coffee, it was often for lunch as well."

The Raft reported an excellent days trading at their Pancake Party, and reluctantly they had to turn some customers away as they ran out of room.

Holland's of Milford reported they were over 10% up on the same week last year, with owner, Paul Holland commenting; 'It would be great to hear how our customers found the experience of shopping with us in Love Milford Week.'

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La Perle reported an increase of 20% on the normal week's trade, with people particularly taking advantage of their lunchtime offer. Friday night was unusually slow - because of the Love Milford Week 'Dine In Friday'! The Old Smithy also reported a significant increase in trade during Love Milford Week.

The Cave's 'Wine Sale' stocks had to be replenished after selling out during the week. Marjorie’s Greengrocers said trade was much busier, and The Butchers Shop were happy with their week. Verveine Fishmongers said Friday & Saturday had sales with a larger value than normal, and The Red Lion enjoyed a busy night when the Total Voice Choir performed on Saturday evening. 

The Village Charity Shop declared that sales were 30% up on last year, and Mark at The Village News sold out of Brand New Forest Cards as people became more aware of their availability throughout the week, he also said his greeting card offer bought in new customers to look at his range of cards.

No shop reported any negative effects or decrease in turnover during Love Milford Week. Indeed, all of the shops and eateries saw the event as positive for both the village and their businesses and they would welcome Love Milford Week being repeated in two years' time. (Food Week is back again in 2016)

Whilst Love Week is not designed as a fundraising event, we were delighted to hear that the village charities that participated in events during the week collectively raised over £4200 for their own good causes, including £305 being raised for the Cardiomyopathy Association at the Pancake Party at The Raft.

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So in summary, The Shopping Challenge and Free Prize Draw were universally hailed as a success and many people from the village were delighted to see so many of the shops all pulling together and looking so colourful. Our thanks go to the shops and eateries for getting enthusiastically involved.

Now that more people have discovered what is their doorstep, we hope that villagers will continue to take some extra time to shop or eat in the village. We are lucky we can buy gifts, groceries, meat, veg, flowers and so much more locally, and we can even pamper ourselves in one of our beauty salons!

During Love Milford Week many will have shopped in the village on occasions when they would not normally do so. We hope that it was a pleasurable experience, and that villagers who enjoyed shopping locally will continue to do so throughout the coming year.

See the Love Milford Week Photos:

Love Milford Week

*Village Shop photos taken by Lynk Photography Studios, 25 High Street, Milford on Sea, SO41 0QF | 01590 642925 - 

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