Town Centre Review 'must suggest radical solution'
Mary Portas, the shopping expert and broadcaster, has been asked by the Government to lead a review into the future of the High Street. She will look at how to create “more prosperous and diverse high streets.”
She is being urged to look to make profound changes to the way local retail centres operate with an increasing number of shopping districts becoming 'clone towns' with national brand retailers dominating and local independent traders being squeezed out. This is believed to have a detrimental effect on the local economy as larger retailers tend to have centralised buying policies which exclude service providers in the area.
As County Homesearch revealed in a wide ranging survey, consumers are not getting what they want from the UK’s towns. Research from the largest independent network of home finders in the UK reveals that 61% of people hanker after locally owned stores and services in preference to high street brands, while a NEF report asserts that 41% of the UK’s towns are clone towns, where over half of all shops are part of a chain.*
Jonathan Haward, chairman of County Homesearch comments: “As we have seen, people like diversity rather than the cloned towns of today. But Mary Portas will have to recommend radical changes to the tax system to encourage the smaller retailers to set up shop. Business rates need to be adjusted to encourage the small retailers and those that are not immediately profitable pay less or no tax.”
County Homesearch’s survey of over 1,000 consumers indicates that independent food shops, particularly delis, organic butchers and patisseries, are seen as more indicative of a desirable town than chain supermarkets, with certain national brands, such as Asda and Tesco, specifically seen as devaluing an area (see charts in attachment for full results).
However, 63% of the shops that went out of business in 2009 were independent, indicating that the more affordable, better-known option often wins out in reality.
May 19, 2011