Monday, 19 November 2012
A FIGHTING CHANCE?
Take a wander around most of our town centres and the out of town retail parks and with your own eyes you will see that impact of the ongoing recession in the rising number of empty shops. With this in mind the recent study produced by the British Retail Consortium which has revealed that the town centre vacancy rate (high streets and shopping centres) in the UK was 11.3% in October 2012 will come as no surprise. This grim statistic is this highest figure that the BRC has recorded since they began the Monitor in July 2011. The highest shop vacancy rates were recorded in Northern Ireland (20.0%), Wales (15.1%) and the North & Yorkshire (14.6%). The BCS has noted that these are the worst vacancy rate since the survey began in July 2011 and tend to confirm that financial challenges for both customers and business retailers are far from over yet.
It not just the local shops that are feeling the pinch, in my home town (where this has been going on for a while) and in more than a few other places even the old high street big names are bugging out, not necessarily because they are necessarily making a loss more that they trying to maximise their profits in the teeth of the recession and the growth of on-line business. Creating the conditions for a stable future for our town centres and high streets will not be easy, but we have to do something and relatively quickly. Obliterating or at least driving a coach and horses though the planning regulations will not provide a sustainable solution, ending business rates and replacing them with a local income tax might go some way towards giving local businesses a fighting chance of keeping their heads above water until the recession begins to end.