Retail veteran warns of 'death spiral' for shopping streets

 

A veteran retailer has urged the Government to reject Mary Portas's plans to save the high street, claiming many shopping streets are "in a death spiral".

Phil Wrigley, the chairman of Majestic Wine, who has held directorships at New Look, Debenhams and BHS, likened high streets to the shipbuilding industry and said many should be converted to housing.

In a speech at Oxford University, he said many shopping streets were "irrelevant to the needs of shopping today" as people chose instead to shop on the internet or at supermarkets and out-of-town malls.

He said the findings of TV star Portas's review into how to save the UK's high streets, which has an average of one in six shops empty, held the "right diagnosis, wrong prescription".

The self-styled Queen of Shops made 28 recommendations to the Government, including setting up national market days and "town teams" to get retailers, landlords and councils to work more closely together and introduce more free parking.

But Mr Wrigley decried the Government's efforts as "propping up a failing sector".

He said: "Unlike Mary Portas, I don't think we can continue to try and muddle through, supporting the traditional high street model."

He added: "There comes a point when the vacancy rate is so high that no new retailers will come in to a location because they don't want to be sited among empty shops. It is, in effect, a death spiral.

"There is some debate about where the threshold lies but it is probably between 20% and 30%."

Blighted high streets should be turned into housing, which would still have some shops but on a much smaller scale.

By 2025 out-of-town shopping malls and leisure centres would converge to become "leisure villages in which we take brief holidays", he said. The rise of the internet would herald fewer but larger stores.

In comments reported by the Financial Times, he added: "Retailing will never be the same again, but there is much to be gained from facing up to this fundamental and irreversible truth.

"In doing so, we might just create the space in which we can re-cast and revitalise our shopping centre communities."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£12500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Adviser - OTE £24,500

£22500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound and outbound calls with...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'