Shopping parades need to change
Facing a record number of vacant shops, the UK needs to invigorate its shopping parades to compete with the high street, the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said. The impact of growing mega stores and big businesses has impacted on local shops and small business owners. The government is keen to support local shopping centres to help them compete with bigger brands and restore local pride to communities.
The Department for Communities and Local Government wants to reassure local businesses that they are crucial to the economy and that local convenience stores have not been forgotten. Mr Pickles has announced that he wants to turn these stores into thriving local beacons, rather than hanging-out places for louts. The new guidance will offer government support and practical advice to local shops so that they can work together to create thriving local opportunities. The plans also reveal a new act called “The Community Right To Bid”. This will give community groups the opportunity to bid on places that have gone out of business in their locality. These assets, which may include local pubs or village shops, cannot be sold by the owner during a six month period. This gives the community time to draw up proposals and raise capital to invest in the places themselves.
However, despite his well-intentioned sentiments, Mr. Pickles has come under criticism for being patronising to local business owners who have long been struggling. The scheme offers no new money to waning shopping parades and many feel that they are already doing the best that they can in the tough economic climate. Roberta Blackman-Woods, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Minister, says that the advice is unhelpful and customer’s simply lack the confidence to shop because of the poor economy.
Although local cafes, grocery shops and newsagents are growing at a faster rate than high street chains and branches, they are still feeling the pressure of bigger competitors such as online retail and big shopping outlets.
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