Let’s have some consensus on how to rescue our shops

Recent rises in sales figures have been fuelled by inflation

Share

A new urgency surrounds the plight of Britain’s high streets, with the publication this week of another review into what can be done to reverse its ailing fortunes. In a new report, businessman Bill Grimsey floated no fewer than 31 recommendations for tackling the problem, taking time to aim a couple of pot shots at an earlier report by Mary Portas, whose own list of things to do numbered more than 20.

It was Portas who succeeded in tapping the Treasury up for a bit of funding for her Portas Pilot towns, and this week she told MPs of the new incentives she would like brought in.

What might really incentivise the businesses that remain there would be a steep reduction in the ruinous business rates, set by central government, combined with making life easier for customers through the provision of cheap and convenient parking, which is the remit of local government.

As ever the two sides of the state seem to prefer sniping at each other to taking concrete action, despite the consensus that exists. Even were this to change, there are no guarantees. People will shop where they want to shop, and spend their leisure time where it suits them.

In wealthy enclaves, whose residents have disposable income, one could be forgiven for asking what all the fuss is about.

The majority of high streets, and retail in general, face a fundamental problem. While warm summer weather, an improving economy and even rising house prices have served to buck them up, much of the recent rises in sales figures have been fuelled by inflation. Overall volumes are more static.

That will not change until wages start to rise at a faster rate than prices, and there is precious little evidence of that happening. The economy in terms of GDP might be improving, but the pound in the consumer’s pocket is shrinking and there aren’t any more of them. Until that changes the high streets’ fortunes will remain depressed, however many ideas are floated in reports.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Coordinator is required to join a...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Software House - PRINCE2, PMP

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A dynamic, customer oriented Pr...

Recruitment Genius: Relationship Sales Advisor

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an inbound relationship...

Recruitment Genius: Electrician - Based in Petersfield

£19600 - £25800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in the South, based in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Supporters of the No vote react after the first results of the referendum at Syntagma square in Athens  

It’s not whether we’re rich or poor, but what we expect that really counts

Ben Chu
 

Daily catch-up: Greek Yes voters were so shy they didn’t even turn up to the polling stations

John Rentoul
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate