In the wake of HMV’s administration and the recent closures at Comet and Jessops, a number of experts and columnists debate the future of the high street. Matthew Hopkinson, director of the Local Data Company, warns that the administrations could push the number of empty shops on the high street to a record high. If 500 HMV and Jessops stores were to close, then the retail vacancy rate would reach 16.5%, up from the previous all time-high of 14.6%, he says.
Julie Palmer, a partner at Begbies Traynor, says that 140 retailers are on the firm’s “critical watchlist” – defined as businesses that had received either a winding up petition or a CCJ. Ms Palmer adds that Begbies recent research had highlighted a 35% rise in the number of retailers experiencing significant distress.
Simon Heffer in the Mail says the high street is doomed because customers will spend ever more money online. Mr Heffer recommends a number of solutions, which could help the high street, including: lower commercial and business rates, more tax on internet behemoths like Amazon, and more alert management.
Alex Brummer, in the same paper, comments that if there is a lesson to be learned it is that landlords need to get real over upward-only rent reviews which are unrelated to broader, recession-like economic conditions.
Grace Dent in the Independent expects shoes shops to become obsolete – as women head online to counter lack of stock and poor customer service. She also predicts the death of the white goods industry on the high street and in business parks. An editorial in the Times argues that if we cannot fill shops on the high street with retailers, then we must fill them with something else.
Sources: Financial Times, Page: 3 Financial Times, Page: 14 The Times, Page: 2 The Guardian, Page: 23, 30 The Guardian, G2, Page: 6-8 The Independent, Page: 11 Daily Mail, Page: 14, 65 Property Matters Wed 16th Jan