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KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-newssince 2002
28th January 2021


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While there were both winners and losers with this week's budget, one thing I was pleased to see is that the Chancellor is taking seriously our need to halt the demise of the 'Great British High Street' with the announcement of the £675 million 'Future High Streets Fund', which will support and fund local areas' plans to make our high streets and town centres fit for the future.

According to Office for National Statistics figures, between 2007 and 2018 online sales increased six-fold while in-store sales dropped dramatically, leading to the closure of many long-established and much-loved stores. Friends and family grumble about these closures but the younger ones are shopping online more and more; seemingly unconcerned by any "use it or lose it" warnings. In 2000, online retailing accounted for less than 1% of retail sales while in August 2018 almost a fifth of all retail sales took place online. It's scary, isn't it?

Online retailers can offer competitive prices, more choice and greater convenience than many town centre competitors. In turn, we consumers are changing what we want from our shopping centres: The Institute of Place Management reports that there is an increased importance placed upon the overall 'experience' of high street shopping; we want our town centres to provide convenience, a sense of community and to add value through services not offered online.

Evidence from the Public Health England British Property Foundation shows that high streets with a wide choice alongside well-designed and planned residential and office space are more resilient to these changes and are adapting more successfully. In contrast, high streets that rely heavily on traditional retail without sufficient office space and housing, have found it harder to adapt and tend to be the ones that are struggling.

Through my work in estate agency I'm well aware of the lovely spaces above our town centre shops - many of them devoid of any useful purpose which is a real shame when one considers the general lack of available housing. The moves to make these spaces useful again are most welcome and filling them with people who may well patronise the shops below will help make our town centres vibrant again.

News that something's finally going to be done about our nation's potholes was also welcome, although I do wonder whether enough money has been set aside, bearing in mind the size and number that need to be tackled...




Jan Hobbs



2nd November 2018

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