Local and national government need to empower the retail and leisure sector to save the British high street, says a leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.
Mark Hart head of retail at the firm said, “The announcement by BooHoo that it has purchased the Debenhams brand is yet another example of an online business buying a great brand with little intention of going back into the high street.”
He added, “Urgent consultation is needed to ensure that High Streets thrive in the future. They have been part of the fabric of this country for hundreds of years.”
Mark said, “The Pandemic has created a situation where many of us buy online because we are unable to leave our homes and the shops that we would have traditionally used are shut but going forward it is essential that traditional high streets are maintained as part of local society.”
He added, “The big question that remains however is – what does the future of our high street look like ? The likes of BooHoo believe it is all online, but the answer is somewhere between the two with the more likely scenario is some key stores along with an online presence.”
Mark said: “Consultation is needed to drive change to high streets to thrive so that they remain community assets. What is clear from the pandemic is that people still want and need a place to meet and that will continue after the pandemic is over. Imagination, a knowledge of the local needs – and investment – are all going to be required.”
He added, “What is clear is that in order to get the high street going again after lockdown there must be further government incentives.”
Mark said, “Business rates is clearly one area that needs attention. The rates holiday needs to be extended for retail and leisure sectors into 2021/22 while those businesses recover. In addition, the government should consider a voucher scheme to encourage people to shop locally so that small and independent retailers do not loose out to the on-line behemoths.”