Traders in Hyndburn have been told to ‘modernise or die’ to ensure they keep up with changing shopping habits.
Advertising boss Murray Dawson says independent traders and stallholders must embrace internet trading – or face closure within years.
His warning comes as he plans to launch a new website later this year to help promote businesses and events in Accrington, along with Twitter feeds to highlight activities in the area.
Mr Dawson, who has recently launched an Accrington shops flyer with Hyndburn council, said small businesses needed to take steps to compete against the big firms. Speaking to retailers at a town team meeting last week, he said: “There are two big pitfalls for retailers – not having an online presence and not managing that effectively.
“We are not making it easy for people to buy in the town and use modern day mediums to help them get to the market.”
He added: “Two years ago we had a terrible winter and for a month my mum would not leave her house.
“She could have done a ‘click and delivery’ service from the internet and got her fruit and vegetables from the market hall.”
Mr Dawson, who lives in Great Harwood, said he is working with the council to set up the website called LiveCentral to promote services in the town and, if successful, believes the pilot scheme could be rolled out across the UK.
He said: “LiveCentral would encompass automotive, business services education, IT, events, food health and medicine and other services.
“We feel maybe Accrington town centre shopping is a bit dated if we are looking at the new generations coming through.
“This to my mind is a way the Market Hall and town centre can potentially defend themselves against the grocery chains.”
Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson said shops can either move forward or ‘stagnate and decline’.
He told the meeting: “Unfortunately the high street is changing like other societies and we have to reinvigorate that.
“Yes there will be ones which will survive and ones which won’t. Society is changing and it’s those who adapt the quickest.
“What we are doing is trying to bring the small independent retailers up to the same standard.”