High street in critical condition, says Portas

13 December, 2011

Retail guru Mary Portas has reiterated claims that the rise of supermarkets has put high street bakeries into decline and warned the high street is in a critical condition.

The Portas Review, officially published today (Tuesday), reprinted figures from the 2008 Competition Commission, which found that the number of bakeries has declined from around 25,000 in 1950 to around 8,000 by 2000. In her introduction to the widely-anticipated report she said: “The days of a high street populated by independent butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers are, except in the most exceptional circumstances, over.”

She added: “Although some high streets are thriving, most have a fight on their hands. Many are sickly, others are on the critical list and some are now dead. We cannot and should not attempt to save every high street, but my findings have led me to believe that unless urgent action is taken, the casualties will only continue to multiply.”

The report has been published alongside new government-commissioned research, ‘Understanding High Street Performance’, which found that a third of high streets are failing and that, by 2014, less than 40% of retail spending will be on the high street.

Portas also spoke of her concerns of the high street at a press conference today, revealing that a sense of community has been “sacrificed” for convenience, with no sense of “belonging” to the high street.

Portas has outlined a number of strategies to tackle economic and community issues with the high street, which the government will consider and respond to next spring.

These include the development of new Town Teams, made up of landlords, shopkeepers, businesses, local politicians and residents, who will implement a visionary management structure to create high streets that people want to use.

In addition, Portas has proposed free car parking in all town centres to draw people back to the high street, alongside a new “community right to try”. This will allow local people who do not have the means to buy empty property to test co-operative ventures.

In response to the report, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The high street should be at the very heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment, so it is vital that we do all that we can to ensure they thrive.

“I am delighted that Mary Portas has produced such a clear vision of how we can create vibrant and diverse town centres and breathe life back into our high streets. The government will now review Mary’s recommendations and we will publish our response next spring.”

To read the report in full, visit: http://www.maryportas.com/news/2011/12/12/the-portas-review/ or join us on Twitter to discuss the report: @BritishBaker #PortasReview





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