By Daniel Hunter

Evidence across the UK shows the challenges of online sales growth and the long term recession is resulting in the decline of our town centres.

According to a new report released by somewhereto_ the future seems even bleaker with one in six (16%) young Britons perceiving the high street as too expensive, over a quarter (26%) feeling the shops are not relevant and don't offer enough variety, and one in five (18%) going as far as saying they don’t visit their local high street at all.

However, young people believe there is a future for the high street but only if they are listened to and their ideas are taken into account. Many young people suggest personal interactive experiences, away from the anonymity of the internet could reinvigorate the high street, while four in five (80%) say retailers and businesses should consult them when planning what appears on their local high street.

Today Theo Paphitis, who made his fortune in the retail sector, helps launch
somewhereto_ re:store [the high street heist], a youth led high street take over of five disused shop spaces across the UK this summer at the London store in East Street Market, SE1.

Theo said, “Becoming a campaign representative for the somewhereto_ re:store campaign was a simple choice. Young people are the entrepreneurs of the future and we should be looking to them as one of our sources of innovation for the high streets of tomorrow.”

The campaign will give young people the chance to inject their natural energy, ideas and entrepreneurialism into shops in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and Bangor (Northern Ireland), plus at spotlight events across the UK. somewhereto_ re:store will see a series of events curated by young people including short film screenings, creative enterprise events, pop up art exhibitions, interactive theatre, music and fashion show launches, food and drink experiences, and more.

London shop manager and young person, Krissi Boakye, said "I think its great that young people are taking initiative to create opportunities for themselves by using somewhereto_ and creating a buzz around their local high streets. Over the next six weeks we want to focus on all the young people who are doing positive things and developing entrepreneurial skills."

Across the UK almost one in eight shops lay vacant in April 2013. Almost one in five shops in Northern Ireland and Wales are boarded up, underscoring how dire the situation has become.

Linda Quinn, BIG Director of Communications, said: "Young people are fizzing with ideas and enthusiasm just waiting to be unleashed and the somewhereto_ re:store campaign will provide them with the opportunity to channel this energy into a project that they feel passionate about. It is young people that have been hit hardest by the economic downturn but we mustn't let their talents go to waste and by giving them the chance to takeover high street shops, they can show Britain just what they have to offer.

"The Big Lottery Fund is proud to support Livity's excellent work in transforming the prospects of a generation and giving young voices a say in issues of real relevance to them."

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