Task force call to keep shops open

Steve Pye
Steve Pye
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A BUSINESS leader has called for a multi-agency task force to be set up in the wake of a report which shows high street chains are shutting shops at a rate of 30 a day in the UK.

Local Federation of Small Business chairman Steve Pye said it was bitterly disappointing and the root causes were changes in shopping habits, high rents, increasing energy bills and rates.

He said: “Something has to be done very quickly where local Councils, the Government and private sector business organisations get together as a task force in order to develop a joint working strategy to help the local economies of the villages, towns and cities in the UK.”

Hugh Evans, from West Lancashire’s Chamber of Commerce said: “The trouble is we’ve sacrificed community for convenience where we either order on-line or shop under one roof. This makes it difficult for high streets because if one shop goes out of business, it leads to a decline in footfall making it harder for other shops to trade profitably”.

The Local Data Company for PricewaterhouseCoopers’ figures show nationwide retailers closed 32 stores a day in July and August, up from 20 a day in the first six months of 2012 amid a consummer spending slump.

High profile victims including JJB, Game, Peacocks and Clinton’s saw the number of town centre chain closures soar to 953 in the first half, compared with 174 in 2011, according to the study of 500 town centres.

Clinton’s Cards stores on Church Street and in the Houndshill Shopping Centre in Blackpool were among those which closed down after the firm went into administration in June.

Mike Jervis, from PwC said retailers are failing because they are tied into long leases they can no longer afford. He said: “Retailers need to formulate a strategic plan in partnership with landlords, not in opposition.”