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December 2018

The High Street is dead! Long live the High Street!

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The High Street is dead! Long live the High Street! And why is the number 14 haunting your author? High Street, definition OED Noun, British, Meaning: Place you end up when you get lost. The imminent, inevitable, incontrovertible demise of the UK High Street has been written about many times in recent years. So much so, that I have never really thought it worthwhile to put together a piece on a subject that is well travelled ground. Hardly a week goes by without another old established department store group or celebrity chef chain throwing itself at the mercy of its creditors by attempting to downsize and restructure through the Administration or Company Voluntary Arrangement insolvency processes, resulting in closed outlets and job losses. Well that was until earlier this month [the same month that saw the demise of Woolworths 10 years ago] when I started to see the number 14 combined with the words High Street everywhere. Let me explain. At the beginning of the month, one of the “Big Four” accountancy firms came forward with a report showing that High Street shops were closing at the rate of 14 per day in the UK’s top 500 High Streets. The gap between closures and openings has widened to a record level, but it is suggested that closures may have stabilised. The reasons for the decline are well known: •    On-line shopping •    Digitisation of services •    Preference for in-home leisure •    Overcapacity in certain sectors •    Out of town stores In the recent past, we have had High Street Czars [or was it a Czarina] appointed by the Government seeking to explain and address the issue and we have had, what some commentators rather unkindly refer to as “tinkering at the edges” of the problem, by the Government who rather belatedly have announced rate reforms and reliefs for smaller retailers which may slow, but will not halt the decline. A few days later, I then saw another headline with the number 14 and the words High Street in it. This time the report related to the High Street in Christchurch...
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