High streets need more variety, have too many stores, says Timpson
For those of you who thought there were too few high street stores, think again. There are actually too many and there needs to be more variety, according to retail expert Sir John Timpson.
Sir John, who founded the shoe repair chain that bears his name and is head of the government’s high street experts panel, is calling for more choice in town centres.
“We’ve got to look to the future of the high street and there is something that needs to be done in terms of using the properties that are closed… the whole property portfolio on the high street needs a good close examination now,” he told GB News.
“You’re talking about the closed units and I suspect there’s a large number of those closed units which will never be shops again.
He partly blamed the burden of business rates but also said that “frankly, there are too many shops in most towns. What we need to see is a complete realignment of what the property is doing in those towns so that it’s not just retail, they’re not just properties for shops, they’re properties for the town”.
He believes central to the re-evaluation of the make up of town centres is that they should include other attractions like hospitality, entertainment, leisure, medical services, and housing, “some of those places… should become places that people live in and put more energy back into the town centres.”
He said: “I think the government’s role here is to create the impetus for change that is needed, but that change will be run locally and inspired. We need inspiration globally to make sure that it happens but we start with a big problem in that town centres, shopping centres, were formed as they are now, basically in the 1970s, when we had quite a lot of shops.
“And then they added a few more shopping centres in the town centre and then beyond that, we’ve seen all the supermarkets developing retail parks, taking a lot of the business away, and then we bring in internet shopping. It’s not surprising that the result of that is we’ve got too many retail properties.”
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