I have previously blogged about the current state of the UK high street. The loss of its je ne sais quoi – high rent and business rates, customers spending less and shopping in retail parks and large out of town shopping centres, shops closing or relocating, and more customers shopping online. More than 25,000 shops have closed since the millennium, and according to retail experts including the CBI, we are at a crisis point.
Being a huge fan of British retail expert and marmalade haired Mary Portas – retailers and customers take heed – don’t commit retail suicide and end up as another small business statistic. Let’s all create some local love either by shopping locally, or campaigning your local council to ensure empty shops are re-let or sold on. Even encourage the landlord of a vacant shop to let it out as a pop up store location for the season.
Mary Portas was asked by the current UK Government to create an independent report about the current state of the high street and her recommendations for rescuing it, before it is too late. Her report was 7 months in the making, and has now been published with what strategies are needed to inject life back into the high street.
One of her rcommendations included in the 28 point report includes appointing a Minister of Shops. Now there’s a likely career move for me.
My passion for local loves comes from previously owning a restaurant in a seaside town which everyone loved, but we suffered when the street was made one way without any parking areas. That coupled with opening as the 2008 recession hit, was a negative situation.
“Prioritising action on business rates and parking is exactly right. These are the key concerns for customers and retailers,” said Stephen Robertson, general director of British Retail Consortium. (Quote taken from The Guardian, 11th December 2011).
This seaside town in my opinion is dying as shop after shop can no longer afford the high rents and extortionate business rates. And like so many town centres, it suffers with ‘cloning’ as it looks like every other town centre in the UK. Its high street is about 100 meters long and there are five mobile phone shops within this single area – Lots of brand new stock, and not very many customers. So how can they afford to stay in business while so many others can’t?. With bad times behind me, I now campaign for independent retailers and creatives with my blog and Twitter.
I am behind Mary all the way with her blueprint to fuelling a lively and attractive high street for our town centres. Here is a link to the report in full which has been published on her own website dedicated to the report.