Many experts believe our towns are in fact very well placed for what they describe as a new era of growth and prosperity. This seems completely at odds with the boarded-up shops and the graffiti covered doorways of the large department stores, such as Debenhams that are no longer with us.
#Deloitte has forecast a further 30,000 net store closures by the end of this year, which should send alarm bells ringing in Whitehall. More shops have been closing than opening since 2016 – long before COVID. According to Deloitte, over 1400 retailers have entered administration since 2010 – many in the last two years. #TheLocaldataCompany (LDC) report in 2021 suggested that one store closed every hour in the UK last year and 190,000 retail jobs were lost in the first six months of 2021 alone. More importantly, this rate appears to be accelerating.
In the meantime, what is to become of these large department stores that have dominated our town centres for so long? Are they to be pulled down or repurposed? #Landlords are understandably upset with their commercial agents who have been unable to re-let them and the government for their lack of support. Surely these often-grand department store buildings in such prime locations can be put to better use rather than simply being left idle?
Strangely this is where we come in. We want to help forge new alliances between local communities, local businesses, landlords, their agents and #councils. None of us want to see our #highstreets turn into ghettos of boarded up shops and “no go” areas. It’s bad for the local community and it’s certainly bad for business. Re-purposing our high streets, starting with old department stores like #Debenhams must be a top priority for our #government both at local and national level.
Such is the strength of opinion across the UK on this issue, that we have launched a petition to take to No.10 to demand action to save our high streets. COVID, Climate change and cost of living have dominated the media for so long, the plight of our high streets has been all but ignored. The silence from No. 10 on this subject has been deafening! When the dust finally settles on COVID, concerned voters (for that is who we are) will ask, how did our elected officials let this happen and vote accordingly.