The government has appointed TV retail guru Mary Portas to carry out a review aimed at halting the "decline of the High Street" amid fears that chain store retailers are literally gaining ground at the expense of the independents.
Mary Portas was the star of Mary Queen of Shops and Secret Shopper and she made JuJu in Gloucester Road, Brighton famous when she applied her brand of retail magic to its operation in 2009.
The review, carried out for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will involve visits to several towns and "engagement events" with shop owners and customers. The Labour Party has made increasing the diversity of High Street shops a priority in its current policy review and the former prospective parliamentary candidate Nancy Platts has suggested that Brighton could be used as a showcase of how to preserve independent shopping areas.
Mary Portas said, "With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years the need to take action to save our High Streets has never been starker.
"I am calling on businesses, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of."
The report will be presented to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in the autum with the aim of identifying what government, local authorities and businesses can do to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse High Streets".
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Department for Business, Innovation & Skills