DR GORDON Fletcher, retail expert at the University of Salford Business School, comments on the PwC report which found that 14 shops a day have closed on Britain's High Streets for the last six months.
Dr Fletcher said: "Today's report from PwC confirms the conclusion that can be drawn from the slowly drawn out story about the high street. More stores are closing their doors than opening them. This is an obvious conclusion to anyone who still battles the traffic jams and high parking costs to visit their local high street. PwC's research highlights the plight of retail chains with more than five outlets including restaurants such as Jamie's Italian. The picture that is painted is bleak.
“However, the opportunity and the hope for the high street lies on its fringes in the spaces where rents are cheaper and the terms are not necessarily as risky for the smaller and independent retail entrepreneur. These independents are offering the entertainment, the distinctiveness and the variety that chains so quickly give up for the sake of efficiency and consistency. The rise of consumer power and the ability to share this through social networks has also brought a rejection of this very same consistency. This rejection has a double impact for retailers when the fixed and safe spaces of shopping centres that they occupy become regarded as the very symbols of boring shopping experiences.
“There is hope. Manchester's Northern Quarter, Crouch End, Hastings Old Town and others all show that there is a future for an independent, local and invigorating 'offline' high street even if that experience must exist on the fringes of online and mainstream retail.”