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Fewer retail units key to saving high street: UK report

27
Feb '19
Fewer retail units key to saving high street: UK report
Internet is not the primary reason for today’s struggling high streets, according to a new report by Centre for Cities, a think tank dedicated to improving the performance of UK city economies, which suggested more support for councils to shift city centre economies away from an over-reliance on retail. It refutes the belief that high streets are dying.

The report, titled ‘The City Centres: Past, Present and Future’, found that focusing on the struggles of certain high streets ignores the success of well-performing city centres, and that the ‘core’ problem of insufficient footfall in city centres was actually due to a lack of skilled jobs. The report is a result of mapping of UK cities with the strongest city centre economies and identifying their common features by the think tank in partnership with George Capital. Successful city centres featured fewer shops, but were supported by knowledge-based office jobs – such as those in marketing, finance and law – which created a market for restaurants, bars and other leisure activities to thrive on the high street, it found.

The report highlighted how several regional cities, such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, performed well in the last two decades, thanks to their growing their city centre workforces.

At the other end of the spectrum, Newport, Bradford and Wigan had the most city centre vacancies, thanks to the common characteristic of too many cheap retail units and a lack of quality office space, restaurants, cafes and bars.

Centre for Cities urged the Chancellor to allow city leaders to access the National Productivity Investment Fund – a £23 billion pot first announced in late 2017 aimed at increasing economic growth over the next six years – to invest in their city centres while offering them exemptions from commercial-to-residential conversions to protect valuable office space. (DS)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India


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