The chang­ing face of our high streets

More peo­ple are liv­ing on our high streets and they have more busi­nesses, restau­rants and bars but the num­ber of shops is fall­ing

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS IN NUMBERS - By DEBORA ARU

THE face of our high streets is chang­ing - with fewer shops, but more bars and restau­rants. An in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple are choos­ing to live on high streets, too.

Those are the find­ings of new re­search by the

Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics (ONS).

The ONS looked at how high street ar­eas had changed be­tween

2012 and 2017.

They de­fined “high street ar­eas” as those within 200 me­tres of a high street, as well as the high street it­self. The fig­ures show that across Great Bri­tain the num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing in high street ar­eas grew by 6% be­tween 2012 and 2017 - twice as fast as the 3% growth in non­high street ar­eas. While all parts of the coun­try saw a sim­i­lar pat­tern, the East Mid­lands saw the big­gest boost in high­street pop­u­la­tion - up by 8%.

So high streets are an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar place to live, but the pic­ture for shop own­ers is some­what less rosy.

At a na­tional level, re­tail has fallen as a pro­por­tion of all high street busi­nesses from 29% to 25% be­tween 2012 and

2017.

All parts of Great Bri­tain ex­cept Lon­don and the North West saw a sim­i­lar drop.

Where shops have dis­ap­peared, other types have busi­ness have of­ten moved in to fill the gap. In par­tic­u­lar, the num­ber of busi­ness units on the high street in Great Bri­tain pro­vid­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, food and drink in­creased by 20% over 2012 to 2017. There has also been a rise in the num­ber of busi­nesses in other service sec­tors, in­clud­ing of­fice­based firms. The num­ber of those has risen by 25%.

He­len Dickinson, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Bri­tish Re­tail Con­sor­tium, said: “New tech­nolo­gies and chang­ing con­sumer be­hav­iours are chang­ing the way we make pur­chases.

“Our high streets are adapt­ing to these changes, com­bin­ing tra­di­tional re­tail with café, bars and other ser­vices, as well as more ex­pe­ri­en­tial shop­ping op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“How­ever, gov­ern­ment must play its part, bring­ing down the busi­ness rates bur­den which dis­pro­por­tion­ately im­pacts re­tail, so that shops have the re­sources they need to in­vest in thriv­ing town cen­tres.”

Be­tween 2012 and 2017, the num­ber of high street re­tail jobs fell in ev­ery coun­try and re­gion ex­cept Lon­don

In 2017, 16% of Great Bri­tain’s pop­u­la­tion was liv­ing on or around the high street

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