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Retail pain: Planners and landlords need to act to prevent the demise of the high street


Anna Silkstone

The collapse of many major retail chains mean that planners need to focus on alternative uses and regeneration to ensure that the lifeblood does not flow out of city and town centres.

Sean Prigmore, Head of Retail, said: “The increases in internet trading is masking the continuing fall in high street footfall.”

Internet retailing figures up, as high street falls

Next has posted figures showing a 3.1% rise in like for like sales in Q4 last year, but it is very telling that their high street stores showed a 2.7% sales drop while their online sales saw a huge 16% increase. Waitrose has announced a rise of 9.5% in December, but put much of their success down to a strong on-line offer; and Amazon had a very successful trading period.

Carnage reigns on the high street

Hawkins Bazaar, Blacks, La Senza, Barratts and D2 have all run-out out of road, while Past Times, Clinton Cards, HMV and Thomas Cook are finding life very difficult. The common thread here is that those without a strong on-line presence are feeling the pinch.

Julian added: “Gone are the days of the national chains requiring a presence on every high street, in every shopping centre, and with multiple units in a single town or city. E-retail is inexorable in its progress. There is no longer a need for huge piles of bricks and mortar and those operators that have expanded into large numbers of locations are now feeling over-stretched and exposed.”

Retailers with a strong on-line presence will continue to prosper

Retailers without, or without a unique offering, will not prosper. They will continue to suffer and seek solace in the pre-pack solution to their troubles.

High street needs to evolve

To keep up with changing circumstances the high street retail needs to improve its offering to ensure town centres are to be saved from near desolation.

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