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British High Street showing “great resilience”

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Using data from the Local Data Company, the report found that high streets have lower vacancies than shopping centres and retail parks in units formerly occupied by these businesses. 

Hugo Clark, director at Deloitte and author of the report, said: “The results of this research are surprising and seem to challenge a number of myths around the state of the high street. 

“They would suggest that far from being dead, the high street appears to be showing great resilience and a capacity for reinvention. It seems that a structural shift is taking place with the high street emerging as an unexpected winner.”

Some have expressed concern that vacant shops are being filled primarily by bookmakers, charity shops and pawnbrokers, but the research suggests otherwise. It found that just 3 per cent of the post-administration units had been filled by charity shops and less than 0.01 per cent by bookies and pawn shops. 

Instead, the report suggests that the High Street’s resilience has been driven by a demand for convenience with consumers shopping on the go. 

Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, said: “Historically, retailers have talked about “destination” shopping locations. 

“However, different and more cautious consumer spending patterns have joined forces with a technology-powered convenience culture which demands that goods and services are available as and where the consumer demands.

“Rather than taking shoppers away, the internet is pushing people back to shops with the growth of “click and collect””

It’s not all good news though. Retail analyst Jon Copestake of the Economist Intelligence Unit said that the news was the result of changing policies form large retailers, rather than the improving fortunes of small businesses. 

He said: “The specialist stores that closed in the face of online competition or due to product obsolescence such as Jessops and Blockbuster are being replaced by major chains like Morrisons stepping up their convenience offering or by discounters looking to tap into consumer austerity drives. 

“This will certainly help drive footfall, but vacancy rates of 20% still represent one in five stores lying empty.”

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