The future of the high street will involve “less retail but better retail”, according to broadcaster and retail guru Mary Portas.
More than nine in ten retailers believe the UK high street is suffering, according to new research from marketplace Ankorstore, backed by Portas.
High street firms are facing turmoil including heightened energy bills, staff shortages and changing consumer behaviours.
The role of cities and towns should be rethought for the future, such as the Parisian model of 15 minute cities, where necessities are within walking or cycling distance from homes.
Urban centres would “no longer be clone towns of the nineties, with shop after another,” Portas told CityA.M.
Ministers must “stop all this messing about and fighting,” and begin to look at how to protect small businesses, which make up the majority of firms in the country, she added.
Businesses now “understand cultural movements,” with shoppers considering food waste, diversity and the planet.
“That’s the shift we’re starting to see. When I did my high street report 12 years ago, these were not on the agenda. They’re firmly on the agenda now.”
In 2011, Portas’ review into the decline of the high street, commissioned by then Prime Minister David Cameron, stated “once we invest in and create social capital in the heart of our communities, the economic capital will follow.”
Portas said she foresaw the collapse of household names, such as Debenhams and Topshop, and along with them the “rampant consumerism we were under for many years.”
Increasing headwinds are deemed by retailers to be almost twice as damaging to businesses than Covid, Ankorstore’s Summer Retail Trend report found.
Some 74 per cent pointed to inflation and the cost of living as the key cause for high streets’ turmoil while just 45 per cent said high streets were struggling due to the pandemic.