Changing geographies of retail: does the high street have a future?

This paper by Rikhil Morjaria focuses on the methods undertaken by councils and other economic development organisations to promote traditional high street retail environment with evidence from 15 town centres. Findings suggest community involvement in events and activities contributes to vitality but that cuts in business rates and amendments of planning policies are required on a national level.

Date added 7 October 2021
Last updated 15 October 2021

This paper by Rikhil Morjaria focuses on the methods undertaken by councils and other economic development organisations to promote traditional high street retail environment with evidence from 15 town centres. The study is centred around Black Friday and Christmas 2014 as chosen cases. Key findings suggest community involvement in events and activities contributes to vitality but that cuts in business rates and amendments of planning policies are required on a national level. The paper also points out that the detrimental effects online retail has on the high street can be countered by having both an online and physical presence and that retailers must adapt to the change in shopping habits in order to meet people’s needs and aspirations.

In terms of methods for attracting people to the local high streets, the paper identified that several places had established a Business Improvement District and seen changes on the high street as a result, but that business rates still had to be fairer. Data also showed that in the run up to Christmas, promotional activities such as for example fireworks and carol singers helped create a buzz around the town/city centre which in turn helped attract people to visit. Another example derived from a council in the study who had relocated their local market and, as such, had seen an increase in footfall.

The paper concludes that whilst alternative retail such as online retail is having a significant impact on high street shopping, hosting events can act as an additional experience for shoppers.