Economic figures released last week illustrate the extent to which the UK retail sector is in recovery. In fact July growth was the fastest since 2006 indicating that the worst might be over for the UK high street.
Whilst a very welcome boost for retail confidence, this bounce in sales was arguably fuelled by the rarest of British heat waves, the birth of a future king, a British winner at Wimbledon and a rise in online sales of 7.9%, perhaps masking the on-going fragility of UK retail growth.
The role the high street has to play in the UK's economic recovery is a case well made. The fact remains that there is still an important task at hand: tapping into our legacy of innovation to create sustainable solutions that revitalise our urban shopping areas and markets.
PopUp Britain, the national campaign that has today launched its latest pop up store on one of London's most exclusive shopping streets, Piccadilly, is the perfect example. What's more its premises have been donated by the Queen, since they are part of the Crown Estate.
The Piccadilly store is the latest in a string of national pop-up shops, backed by the UK's enterprise campaign, StartUp Britain. Over the next six weeks, this one store will provide the opportunity for sixty small business owners to showcase their products in the very heart of London's most sought-after retail destination.
The beauty of this initiative lies in its ability to bridge the gap between two groups, each with their own challenges. Landlords with empty retail space are given the opportunity to house some of the UK's most exciting new retailers who are hungry to test the water with face-to-face sales. The outcome? An exciting new concept in retail.
For a small business that has established itself as an online retailer and possibly branched out to market stalls, the barriers to setting up a bricks and mortar shop on the high street are often prohibitive. Landlords are looking for long-term rental agreements, shops need to be kitted out, insurance can be expensive and the bureaucracy alone can be enough to put them off.
The PopUp Britain model works because it allows those small business owners the chance to gain experience of the pressures of retailing on the modern high street, without having to take on the risk of long-term commitments. They get to test their products in the market, to engage with their customers and to build their online presence.
This opportunity alone is not enough, since they also need the right tools to trade. That's why my company, Intuit, provides all the tenants with free use of our mobile payment devices, Intuit Pay. Since the first shop was launched in Richmond over a year ago, hundreds of retailers have been given the opportunity to take card payments with Intuit Pay, and without having to enter expensive or binding contracts with other providers.
I am proud that Intuit has supported Pop Up Britain right from when it was founded. I believe the UK economic recovery rests in the fortunes of our small and medium sized businesses, and if large enterprises are able to fuel this growth, it can only be good.
So, whilst the English sun wanes once again, I implore you to go and see the new face of British retail for yourself, visit the PopUp Britain store at 213 Piccadilly and meet some of the businesses that are taking part in the pop up revolution.