Last week retail guru Mary Portas told MPs she had “taken a battering” from critics for attempts to revive the High Street and re-introduce the High Street Shops to a new level.
Critics of her review – which focused on encouraging independent start-ups and community-oriented businesses to replace chain stores that had moved to out-of-town locations – said it was too “nostalgic”. We say nostalgia it is not. The importance to introduce a new trend in high street shopping is needed. The large chains are not all to blame and the fact the common store is out priced by cheaper and almost same day delivery from online providers is producing a lack of retail stores on our high streets. With new stores concentrating on ‘what you cannot get online’ in hair salons, treatments, restaurants and coffee bars, we are seeing a new breed of High street that once start blossoming will allow your small retail store to return so that it becomes a pleasure to shop all in one area.
Catalyst for change
Her report had been a catalyst for change, with half of the government’s initiatives for regenerating High Streets based on her recommendations.
Ms Portas said traditional High Streets had been “in decline” for 20 years and trying to reverse this would take a long time.
Twenty-seven towns and areas have been given funding to build a more diverse and sustainable shopping experience.
London was the best performing region with a vacancy rate of 9.4%, while the North West had the highest vacancy rate of 20.1%.
Of the large centres, Blackburn had the highest vacancy rate of 26.9% and Cambridge recorded the lowest proportion of empty shops at 7%.
So ignore your critics Ms.Portas we are behind you!