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Around 3,500 UK high streets under threat

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Only ten per cent of UK high streets are now considered prime locations leaving 3,500 under threat of losing high profile retailers, new research reveals.

Shop vacancies have been steadily growing in recent years and cost-cutting retailers often see a reduction in bricks and mortar as the best way to streamline a business.

But retail consultancy, and author of the report, Kurt Salmon argues that by using creativity and innovation firms can still reinvigorate this ailing but key area of retail space.

Helen Mountney, UK Head of Kurt Salmon’s Retail and Consumer Group, said: “Retailers can’t afford the high street to die but it will need to be reinvented once again.

“When the traditional corner shop was closed because it did not offer what the consumer wanted it was replaced in time with convenience stores. Department stores have reinvented themselves.

“Now it is the turn of the multiple operators in the high street: and at a minimum they need to look at their high-performing stores by location and location type, find out what makes them best in class and replicate that throughout their estate.”

Some of her views echo those of the Managing Director of online bookseller The Book Depository, Kieron Smith, who told Retail Gazette last week that local tailoring could be one way entertainment and general merchandise retailers can better engage with customers to help reverse falling high street footfall.

Key to this reinvention is the development of the ‘theatre of retail’ making the shopping experience more compelling and interactive, which can be achieved by paying more attention to a shop’s layout, design and use of in-store technology.

According to Kurt Salmon stores may also need to work together, perhaps by providing joint delivery services and promotions, or lobbying councils to remove barriers to shopping such as cost, accessibility and limited availability of car parking.

Mountney added: “In some towns a more creative solution to keeping the shopping choice alive will be to incorporate shops within their leisure complexes.”

Published on Monday 28 March by Editorial Assistant

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