We are all painfully aware of the carnage that has littered the High Street up and down the country.
Beales, Mothercare, Thomas Cook, Bon Marche, Jamies Italian & Hawkin’s Bazaar to name a few.
Woolworths collapsed some eleven years ago and 46 of its shops stand empty.
Almost 10,000 retail jobs have been lost in the first three weeks of January 2020. This should be set against the retail sector in the UK employing some three million people.
According to the Centre for Retail Research there are 50,000 fewer shops on our High Street than just over a decade ago.
Shopping on the internet has borne the majority of the blame in the media and elsewhere but that is not the full story as internet shopping still only accounts for around 20% of the total.
Other factors contributing to the difficulties are business rates, changing consumer behaviour, devaluations in currency and the effect of that on imported goods, over valued real estate and wholesalers being squeezed out resulting in reduced choice.
There is no single answer to solving these difficulties but, as ever, a combination of measures.
Council taxes & rents need to be reduced. Neither will be easy to achieve due to the vested interests of politicians and landlords.
The character of the High Street needs to be improved. Landlords and planners should strive to make High Street shopping less mundane and more of an experience. They should not be just somewhere you go to buy goods but also a mixture of other aspects such as recreational, dining, health clubs, some residential and sundry medical offerings.
The decline in the High Street can probably be turned around but it will require considerable effort by most, if not all, of the stakeholders.