Letter: Empty shops

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The Independent Culture
Sir: As a solicitor involved for many years in acting for retailers in their property acquisitions, disposals and management, I was very interested to read Hamish McRae's article "Vital lessons for survival in the high street" (15 December).

There is, however, one fundamental point that he has overlooked: the fixed costs facing retailers, and in particular their leases. I agree that adapting to the modern, fast-moving world is essential but regrettably leases are still very inflexible.

If, as appears likely, the demand for bricks and mortar decreases many operators will be left, by the quirk of the date of a rent review, with over-rented premises which no one will want. There must surely be a limit to the number of coffee shops the high street can take.

A lease is not just for Christmas.

GEOFFREY N SILMAN

London W1

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