THREAT TO 8,000 HIGH ST SHOPS
More set to shut in wake of Wilko
LABOUR has called for urgent action to save the ailing high street as more than 8,000 firms prepare to shut up shop.
The party’s analysis of official survey results found 8,679 businesses expect to close premises within three months.
It comes after hardware chain Wilko announced all 400 of its stores are set to shut, leaving 12,500 workers facing redundancy.
Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “The news from Wilko has been devastating but Government inaction risks seeing thousands more high street businesses follow suit.
“We cannot go on with the shuttered-up shops and struggling high streets that have become the norm after 13 years of Conservative economic failure. But where on Earth are the ideas from the Government about how to fix any of this?”
High streets have been the target of rising costs due to skyrocketing inflation, steep tax rises and spiking energy bills.
Meanwhile, a decade of low growth and a surge in online shopping means footfall has fallen and firms have struggled to attract customers.
The impact of these harsh increases on local economies has resulted in more boarded-up shops, making high streets less pleasant places to shop, eat and relax. Out-of-town shopping centres – many with free parking – compound the problem.
Mr Reynolds challenged the Government to take up Labour’s fivepoint plan to revitalise high streets.
It would see business rates cut for small businesses, firms offered help to cut their energy bills and councils given powers to take over empty shops and bring them back into use.
The party has also pledged to tackle anti-social behaviour in town centres and introduce new laws to stamp out late payments from big firms.
Mr Reynolds added: “Labour has a plan that will tackle the things holding firms back.
“We will work in partnership with businesses and local communities to get our high streets thriving again.
“This is just one of the ways we will deliver our mission to secure the highest growth in the G7, so every part of our country can feel better off.”