Following the British Retail Consortium announcement today that the number of empty shops in the British high street hit a record high last month on the back of the depressed economy and changing shopping habits, Christine Elliott, Chief Executive of the Institute for Turnaround (IFT) said:

“The emphasis on the decline of the UK high street ignores the fact that there are many companies in a position to prosper, providing that they adapt to the challenging business climate.

Retailers must adapt quickly and adopt a new role alongside online retailers. To do so, high street businesses must develop a loyalty based relationship with their customers built on strong customer service and an engaging brand experience. High street businesses must also take advantage of the fact that in a shop, customers can touch and experience their products, something that a specialist online retailer is unable to offer.

However, this business strategy must be combined with high street companies acting together to tackle the issue of rental terms and prices, as many retailers are still paying business rates based on rental valuations made at the height of the property boom in 2008. There is clearly a need for collective action, but with a wealth of independent landlords and property groups it is difficult to implement change. We need to introduce forum in which these businesses can deal with this problem together.”

Boarded up store fronts - Mike Kirby

Boarded up store fronts – Mike Kirby

Image by Mike Kirby [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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