Shop Vacancy Rate ‘ Stubbornly High’

That is the headline on the BBC website again today. We seem to be living through a battle of wills between Mary Portas and Bill Grimsey the 2 retail ‘gurus’ who are giving so much thought and time to analyse and examine what is failing on the High Streets in the UK, they are also being given a great deal of media exposure.

From my point of view the High Street needs to be a welcoming, safe and a fun place to visit. I have blogged before about dropping car park charges, ideally altogether – collect your taxes in rates from occupied shops not from the motorists.

Some of the lessons for what can be learnt are already being practiced in market towns from using Farmers Markets, German Markets to all manner of promotions. What we are not doing is enough to provide concentrated year round promotions for the High Street. But with whom does the problem lie to make something happen?

High Streets by their nature are in disparate ownerships with Local Authorities actually having very little stake in them and even less so for central government. Initiative has to come locally and stakeholders must come together. Sadly in the age of national multiples occupying such large chunks of the High Street it is difficult to get any sort of trade Association established that can bring together the shop keepers of a town to act cohesively. Perhaps each High Street needs the local mayor to work with the shopkeepers and High Street stakeholders to drive a campaign for them to become the welcoming, safe and fun places to visit, spend time and most of all spend money.

If we are relying on Mary and Bill alone to deliver solutions for all our High Streets we may be waiting a long time.

For help or advice on any of your retail requirements or further retail advice please contact Matthew Pegg on 0121 455 9455