The UK’S town centres need to adapt urgently to meet the needs of the communities that they serve for the next 50 years. That’s according to a Beyond Retail report from the taskforce set up following Mary Portas’ review of the High Street.
Chairman Mark Williams has stressed that the shake-up needed will be comparable to the rebuilding of post-World War II Britain. He claims that waiting for normal economic growth to return is unacceptable and will result in a further decline of the High Street.
Beyond Retail states that town centres need to develop an “integrated digital strategy”, incorporating mobile, social media and website, in order to “market the town to drive footfall, and to assist independents that might not have the resources required to take advantage of ever advancing technological capabilities”.
The taskforce suggests that Click and Collect should be coupled with low priced short-term parking to encourage consumers to visit local High Streets. A town centre website should be hosted as a promotional and information platform for multiples and independents in a bid to restore footfall.
The taskforce said it is up to local authorities to decide what is right for their area.
“The change in consumer shopping patterns, from ‘bricks and mortar’ to the ‘bricks and clicks’ multi-channel approach is not a short-term fad,” said Williams.
“Not only is there too much retail in our urban centres but it is often in poorly configured and designed space and based on a cost model that no longer works for a number of retail operations.
“Most of our town centres need to evolve urgently.”