{$inpagemarkup}

Search News

Results: 1-10 of 693


Bira leads £1 billion damages claim against Amazon by UK retailers in landmark collective action

12 Jun 2024

A £1 billion damages claim has been filed against Amazon on behalf of retailers selling on Amazon’s UK marketplace for illegally misusing their data and manipulating the Amazon Buy... Read more…

Bira responds to KPMG Retail Sales Monitor report

10 Jun 2024

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has responded to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for May 2024.
Read more…

Small independent Harrogate shop does it again at the national level with new awards glory

10 Jun 2024

Independent Harrogate computer shop Phase 4 Computers has been named as a finalist in the Tech Awards 2024.
Read more…

Knutsford fashion show highlights town's 'amazing independent shops'

10 Jun 2024

Independent boutiques in Knutsford have teamed up once again to showcase their new designs at the third Flash Fashion.
Read more…

Increasing numbers of UK consumers limiting their spending to goods on promotion

10 Jun 2024

Research of over 1,000 UK shoppers by Pricer shows 27% now only buy grocery items which are on offer – a +6 percentage increase compared to 2023. 
Read more…

Taunton book shop to host three talks from climate specialists ahead of election

10 Jun 2024

Independent Taunton book shop Brendon Books is to host talks from climate specialists ahead of the general election.
Read more…

Bira releases new podcast exploring accessibility on the High Street

3 Jun 2024

The British Independent Retailers Association has released the second episode of its 'High Street Matters' podcast series, this time tackling the important issue of accessibility for independent... Read more…

Independent Retailers Association Survey Shows Challenging Q1 for Traders

29 May 2024

Many independent retailers across the UK faced a difficult start to 2024 according to a new survey by Bira, the British Independent Retailers Association and the Association of Cycle Traders... Read more…

Harrogate record shop marks 30th anniversary with vinyl revival

29 May 2024

P&C Music – Harrogate's oldest independent record shop – is celebrating its 30th anniversary, having become a mecca for vinyl record fans in a wide variety... Read more…

Crickhowell’s Book-ish crowned best independent bookshop in UK and Ireland

28 May 2024

 A Powys bookshop has been named as the best independent in the UK and Ireland.
Read more…

Back to news menu

Indie shops key to reversing fortunes of struggling high streets, new study shows.

Posted on in Business News

A focus on independent stores and ‘browse-only’ shops can help to reverse the fortunes of the struggling high street, new research shows.

Shopping Street

Findings from an extensive study by Manchester Metropolitan University of 100 UK high streets, funded by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, have highlighted the major trends and issues from 2012 to 2021 - and solutions to help revive retail areas.

Published in a new illustrated book, High Street: How our town centres can bounce back from the retail crisis, researchers showed that high streets have faced unprecedented challenges.

Ordinance Survey research showed that between March 2022 and March 2020 there were 9,300 fewer retail outlets in the UK, impacted by Covid lockdowns and online shopping.

The new research shows that the problem has been driven by a steep decline in the success of ‘big retail’ – large chain stores – with 40% of retail space surplus to requirement. However, there are glimmers of light, and a way forward for high streets beyond big retail. According to the study, the six trends that will affect future retail growth are:

  1. Independent retailers such as artisan food outlets, vintage clothing emporiums and vape shops filling the gaps left by collapsed chain stores.
  2. The return of activities to high streets that had been thought lost, including ‘showrooming’ - physical stores being used to display goods and give advice, but not transact, with purchases being made online – and smaller convenience supermarket stores.
  3. Omni-channel retail’ - stores combining physical selling with online retailing.
  4. Touching, feeling and looking – the ability to experience products, to sit on furniture and try on clothes.
  5. Authenticity and uniqueness – offering something other than mass-produced products of mainstream retailers, like vinyl records and handmade crafts.
  6. Experiences rather than ‘stuff’ – catering to people’s desire to spend money on doing things like going on holiday or having a meal or beauty treatment.

The team of researchers from Manchester Met’s School of Architecture, BDP Architects and the Quality of Life Foundation, recommends seven key solutions to help town centres and high streets fight the decline.

  1. Halting out-of-town development and relocating services like local councils and leisure facilities in and around town centres.
  2. Better, more positive town planning rather than permitted development rights, that allow the conversion of vacant shops to housing, which reduces the attractiveness and retail footfall of high streets.
  3. Planning for future uncertainty by building urban environments made up of small and medium-sized flexible units that can be adapted.
  4. Increasing the diversity of retail and stopping the measure of success based on the presence of a small number of national retailers.
  5. Tackling vacancy by providing incentives for independents like low commitment pop-up leases, subdividing units and recycling fittings.
  6. Reforming business rates, which for many retailers are unsustainably high.
  7. Considering new models for town centre development less dependent on pre-lets to major retailers. This will involve a new breed of retail developer as well as an increasing role for councils in acquiring and managing retail space.
  8. Rejecting the unified ownership model of shopping centres in favour of a diversity of owners and units to encourage innovation and resilience.
  9. Improving the environment of high streets to instil confidence, change perceptions and help with practical methods like space for seating and markets.

The findings will now be used to advocate for national government policies such a business rate reform and a rethink on permitted development rights that is eroding retail centres by allowing the unplanned conversion of shops to housing. They will also inform the strategies of local councils who are frequently faced with dilemmas on how to best spend funds in their town centres, and guide consultants developing town centre proposals. 

Dr Lucy Montague, Senior Lecturer at Manchester Met’s School of Architecture, and co-author of High Street: How our town centres can bounce back from the retail crisis, said:

“There’s been much talk in recent years of the high street dying, but our studies show this just isn’t the case – if anything, it’s out-of-town retail parks that are on their way out.

“We hope our series of solutions and recommendations show that adaptable town centres hold the key to enabling better and quicker recovery. They are capable of once again becoming the diverse, characterful and independent places they were before they were homogenised by big retailers.”

Dr Montague and her co-authors’ study included 54,749 shops and 160m square feet of retail floorspace, representing a sample of 21% of all retail outlets in the UK. It includes ‘vacancy league tables’ – lists of cities and town centres that score highest in the UK since 2012 for empty retail space.

 High Street: How our town centres can bounce back from the retail crisis is published by RIBA Books. Find out more here High Street: How our town centres can bounce back from the retail crisis | RIBA Books

Back to news menu

Useful links

If you have any other queries please contact us.