Our high streets are declining!
As the beating hearts of local communities, our high streets are declining that with a record 16 per cent of shops across the UK, unoccupied for longer. Persistent vacancies can contribute to a spiral of economic decline. It means less economic activity and less income for local authorities in terms of business rates. In turn, high streets have become less attractive investment opportunities for national brands, and a lot of job opportunities are withdrawn, which compounds this decline and the potential for increased anti-social and criminal behavior. Problems facing high streets are often blamed on a shift to online shopping, a process which has been substantially accelerated by the Covid-19 emergency, but it is deeper with a long history.
Since there will be no "return to normal" for the high streets, it is time to reimagine how high streets work to empower local people to takeover, meet local needs and serve their community.