High Street los­ing 14 shops ev­ery sin­gle day

Alarm­ing sta­tis­tics of re­tail cri­sis driv­ing push to ‘rein­vent’ city cen­tres

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - Front Page - BY KEITH ROS­SITER

High street shops closed at a rate of around 14 a day in the first half of the year, while open­ings were down a third, a new re­port sug­gests.

Re­tail­ers are bat­tling the worst trad­ing con­di­tions for five years, with the growth of in­ter­net shop­ping and busi- ness rates blamed for the chal­leng­ing cli­mate.

But across the West­coun­try, towns and cities are seek­ing to rein­vent the high street by fo­cus­ing on leisure, en­ter­tain­ment and so­cial­is­ing where mere shop­ping has failed.

A study of 500 high streets found 2,692 stores na­tion­ally had van­ished in the first six month of the year – roughly 14 a day. The is­sue has been com­pounded by a dra­matic fall in the num­ber of open­ings, from 2,342 in the first six months of last year, to 1,569 this year.

Tim Jones, chair­man of the South West Busi­ness Coun­cil, said the gov­ern­ment needed to tackle the is­sue of busi­ness rates, which fall more heav­ily on high street traders than on the dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres of firms such as Ama­zon. But Mr Jones said lo­cal au­thor­i­ties would also have to bite the bul­let and re­form car park­ing charges – one of the main earn­ers for coun­cils.

High street shops closed at a rate of around 14 a day in the first half of the year, while open­ings were down a third, a new re­port sug­gests.

Re­tail­ers are bat­tling the worst trad­ing con­di­tions for five years, with the growth of in­ter­net shop­ping and busi­ness rates blamed for the chal­leng­ing cli­mate.

But across the West­coun­try, towns and cities are seek­ing to rein­vent the high street by fo­cus­ing on leisure, en­ter­tain­ment and so­cial­is­ing where mere shop­ping has failed.

A study of 500 high streets by ac­coun­tants Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers and the Lo­cal Data Com­pany found 2,692 stores na­tion­ally had van­ished in the first six month of the year – roughly 14 a day.

The rate is sim­i­lar to the same pe­riod in 2017, al­though there has been a dra­matic fall in the num­ber of open­ings, from 2,342 new shops in the first six months of last year, to 1,569 this year.

Tim Jones, chair­man of the South West Busi­ness Coun­cil, said: “The im­pact is pre­dom­i­nantly with na­tional re­tail out­lets rather than more lo­cal or re­gional op­er­a­tions.

“In some in in­stances we are find­ing that the gaps left by the na­tion­als are be­ing filled by lo­cal traders. As the cost of re­tail rents re­duces, it is open­ing up some in­ter­est­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal traders.”

He said the gov­ern­ment needed to tackle the is­sue of busi­ness rates, which fall more heav­ily on high street traders than they do on the out-of-town dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres of com­pa­nies such as Ama­zon.

But Mr Jones said lo­cal au­thor­i­ties would also have to bite the bul­let and re­form car park­ing charges – one of the main earn­ers for many coun­cils.

Steve Hughes, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ply­mouth City Cen­tre Com­pany, the city’s busi­ness im­prove­ment dis­trict, said new leisure and res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ments would help to com­bat the de­cline.

£150 mil­lion of new in­vest­ment in­cludes the Drake’s Leisure com­plex, with an Imax cin­ema and restau­rants, and The Box, Ply­mouth’s new cul­ture hub, which is ex­pected to at­tract 300,000 vis­i­tors a year when it opens in 2020.

Mean­while, the old Derry’s Cross site is un­der­go­ing a £50 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment, and Ur­ban Splash has an­nounced plans to re­de­velop the Civic Cen­tre in Ply­mouth as homes, bring­ing more peo­ple to live in the city.

“City and town cen­tres are chang­ing and need to di­ver­sify, but we are lucky that we have a for­ward-think­ing coun- cil,” Mr Hughes said. He added that al­though on­line shop­ping was a threat to the high street, it still rep­re­sented only about 17% of sales.

Ann Hunter, man­ager of InEx­eter, the city’s busi­ness im­prove­ment dis­trict, said: “We are see­ing many more of our

‘City and town cen­tres are chang­ing and need to di­ver­sify’

Steve Hughes, Ply­mouth City Cen­tre

re­tail­ers de­vel­op­ing the ser­vice as­pect of their busi­nesses, by of­fer­ing ap­point­ments with stylists and spe­cial­ists to help find the per­fect item.

“InEx­eter is do­ing the same for the city cen­tre by pro­duc­ing and sup­port­ing lots of events and ex­pe­ri­ences, draw- ing peo­ple into the city and giv­ing them a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We have our first full day Christ­mas light switch on event coming up soon on the Novem­ber 18 and a se­ries of other events and en­ter­tain­ment lead­ing up to Christ­mas.

“We are lucky to be part of a grow­ing city with a strong econ­omy.

“Re­tail­ers and restau­ra­teurs con­tinue to in­vest in the city and we are see­ing new busi­ness open­ings all the time, with very lim­ited va­cant units.”

An Ex­eter City Coun­cil spokesman said: “Un­like other cities which are strug­gling, Ex­eter re­mains a strong re­tail des­ti­na­tion. Foot­fall in the city con­tin­ues to be strong and that is re­flected in the City Cen­tre be­ing ranked in the UK’s top 1% of all UK re­tail cen­tres.”

High streets are forced to look for imag­i­na­tive ways of boost­ing foot­fall as shop­pers in­creas­ingly turn to the in­ter­net

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.