TV Retail ‘Guru’ Mary Portas has today been asked by David Cameron to come up with a plan to help turn around the fortunes of our ailing High Streets.
Central to the review – ordered by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – is the worrying level of sales in town centres, which have dramatically under-performed other locations.
Government figures show that between 2005 and 2010, town-centre sales grew by a paltry 1.5%, while those in out of town shopping centres grew 11.5% and non-store (mail order and internet) soared by 71.5%.
As our ‘Shop Doctor’ knows only too well there will be no simple solutions as the picture across the country is extremely complex and compounded by a range of issues that range from the costs associated with operating on the High Street , the state of the local economy, customer demographic and how supermarkets and out of town retail activities interface with the towns themselves.
Underlying this is the poor condition of many of our High Street environments, parking charges and accessibility and the individual presentation of the shops within them – and then there are the challenges of the varying levels of customer service experiences and customer perception (or misperception) of what it actually costs to shop in the High Street.