Can Government forum save UK’s high streets?

11/02/2013

The UK Government is setting up a national Future High Streets Forum to make sure other retailers do not go the way of HMV, Blockbuster, Jessops and Comet.

Building on work that retail guru Mary Portas has already begun in 27 areas of England, the forum will unite leaders from retail, property and business to think of ways to revitalise town centres.

The aim is to adapt the High Street to meet the changing needs of consumers by offering mentoring.

The forum will investigate ways to improve parking so that commercial landlords can turn part of their building into residential property to bring more people into town centres. They also want high streets to be given priority when it comes to planning decisions.

The forum will also look at ways to increase the number of pop-up stores.

A £1m Future High Street X-Fund will be awarded to areas with the best ideas for rejuvenating their town centres. The winners will be announced in March.

Adam Stewart, Marketing Director, Rakuten’s Play.com commented: “It’s encouraging to hear that the government plans to introduce a national Future High Streets Forum to support the retail sector.

“Over the last few years shopping has evolved and online and offline shopping experiences have become increasingly blurred. However, rather than online leading to the demise of the high street, there is a strong argument to suggest these two shopping channels should co-exist and support one another.

“Many businesses are already embracing this change by joining up their offerings, using in-store Wi-Fi, click and collect services and online offers redeemable in-store and reversely online stores are increasingly using pop-up stores to create physical brand touch-points.
“It will be interesting to see the plans the forum puts forward to revitalise the high street, but ultimately all retailers need to work towards a refined shopping ecosystem that targets consumers both online and offline.”

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