Can social media save UK retailers?

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Apart from drawing in more people, Facebook, Twitter and newcomer Phlok are boosting the sales of British shops, according to media reports.

Coupled with loyalty schemes, these social media sites have enabled struggling high street shops to compete against retail parks, supermarkets and even e-commerce firms, said Yorkshire retailers.

Sarah Lyle, who owns the Attic Womenswear at IIklely in West Yorkshire, noted that digitally linking independent retailers to their client base is improving business.

“Social media is amazing. Just last week alone, it accounted for a quarter of my turnover,” she said.

In particular, Ilkley’s newest social media partner Phlok rewards clients with points each time they shop in any of the 29 registered retailers in town.

Each month, Lyle pays £69 to the company behind the digital loyalty scheme. When her clients redeem their points through a smartphone application, Phlok deposits money back into her account.

There are currently more than 40 high streets or business clusters in England and Northern Ireland that have registered with Phlok, including four Yorkshire market towns, and more are expected to join in the future.

Phlok Founder Paul Graham explains that the app rewards loyal customers for shopping instead of making clients feel guilty for buying elsewhere.

“What we’re saying is: Businesses are investing in a system to reward their customer for remembering they exist.”

It is a message that has found many believers in Boroughbridge near Leeds, where 16 retailers have signed up with Phlok.

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