Portas Review: We can turn High Street decline around

Celebrity retail expert Mary Portas – also known as the Queen of Shops – has released her Government-commissioned review into the future of the High Street.

Portas began this project in May and has been looking into why High Street retailers are struggling and how this can be countered, insisting that there is still hope for traditional retail in town centres.

"The problems are complicated and sometimes overwhelming, but the task is not impossible – and I believe we can turn things around," said Portas.

"Over seven months, I have seen how so much more can be achieved by communication, collaboration and compromise. The more people I have seen and spoken to, the more I realise that there is a massive appetite out there among those willing to get their hands dirty and to fight for their High Streets."

She has drawn up a list of recommendations to improve the fortunes of town centres, such as: creating ‘Town Team’ management teams to oversee each High Street; lower regulations for market traders; better business rates for small businesses and independent retailers; and free, controlled parking schemes.

The Government will respond to these recommendations in the spring. You can read the full list here.

The Portas Review explores several factors behind High Street, including the rise of supermarkets and retail parks, online retail and the recession.

"This report is not about pointing fingers of blame," she said.

"Whilst I do believe that there are many compelling instances when out-of-town retail has drained the traffic and retail offer from our town centres, it would be naive and far too easy to simply think that they are to for the decline of our High Streets.

"The fact is that the major supermarkets and malls have delivered highly convenient needs-based retailing, which serves today’s consumers well.

"Sadly, the high streets didn’t adapt as quickly or as well. Now they need to."

The full report can be downloaded here.

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