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Government panel appointed to save the high street

18 July 2018

Government panel appointed to save the high streetEight retail gurus have been appointed by the Government to assess the state of UK high streets and advise on how to bring them back to health.

The initiative was announced by high streets minister Jake Berry MP . The panel will be chaired by retailer Sir John Timpson and there will be a call for evidence later in the Summer.

Jake Berry said: "People care about their local high streets because they are the centres of their community. But our high streets are changing, and the Government is committed to helping communities adapt.

"High streets of the future will still be commercial centres but consumers now look for a wider range of experiences, from leisure to health services. Our future high streets may well feature more homes, childcare centres and gyms to bring people back and ensure that they keep returning."

Sir John Timpson said: "The panel cannot offer an instant, quick fix solution but we hope to identify practical and common-sense decisions that will help the Government provide the support that local communities and businesses need to provide the leisure and shopping facilities people will want 25 years from now."

Commenting on the announcement, parcel delivery comparison site ParcelHero said the initiative could be "too little, too late".

David Jinks, ParcelHero's head of consumer research, said: "The new Government panel … has a brief to 'diagnose the issues that affect the health of our high streets and advise on the best practical methods to help them thrive'. To be brutally honest, the diagnosis is already clear, and it's terminal unless the Government and retailers act swiftly."

ParcelHero's latest research suggests that by 2030 over 40% of all retail sales will be online and up to half of the UK's existing high street stores will have closed.

Jinks said: "The high street is sinking fast from the perfect storm of home shopping and ruinous business rates that retailers have been screaming in protest against for some years … high street stores must offer a great shopping experience, and more product expertise. Business rates need to be slashed. Most of all, a click-and-mortar approach to retail is urgently needed by stores such as Debenhams and House of Fraser."

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