A report by the British Retail Consortium says that High Streets in the UK will have to shake off their "clone town" reputations and develop unique characters if they are to survive the recession. If this is the case, Brighton & Hove is already way ahead of the game.
The report said that the recession is accelerating the long-term decline of the high street as shoppers have been lured out of town and online over the last two decades. With vacancy rates predicted to double to 15% this year, some town centres are already recording almost 40% vacancy. In Brighton city centre the vacancy rate in march was 6.9% compared to a national benchmark of 9.5%.
The BRC report contains a 20-point rescue plan, which includes combating anti-social behaviour in town centres, better parking and public transport, and better design of public spaces.
The number of retailers entering administration is up 109% year-on-year, according to the Insolvency Service.
The BRC report advocates a mix of independent shops and big-name retailers to act as "anchor stores", and recommends maximising heritage features or natural landscape to develop the elusive “sense of place” that Brighton & Hove has in spades.
It said that some high streets might never go back to being the first choice for large purchases as nearby regional centres draw shoppers away, but could survive in a different role. The BRC is also calling on landlords to be more flexible and for the government to avoid piling extra costs onto retailers such as the Business rates Supplement.
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British Retail Consortium