By Marcus Leach
The government, in their bid to rejuvenate Britain's high streets, have publicly accepted 'virtually all' of the 28 recommendations laid out by Mary Portas.
Ms Portas was asked by the government to compile a report on how best to revive flagging high streets, following the retail sector being hit hard by the rise in online shopping and a weak economy.
Following Ms Portas' recommendations, the government has drawn up plans to launch:
- a High Street innovation fund with £10m of taxpayer money focused on bringing empty shops back to life
- a National Markets' Day to incentivise entrepreneurs to try out new ideas and encourage visitors to town centres
- a £1m Future High Street fund to be awarded to towns that deliver the most effective rejuvenation schemes in a year's time
- a further £500,000 fund to help towns access loans
"I'm accepting virtually all of the recommendations from Mary Portas's review, but I'm also going one step further, with a range of measures designed to help local people turn their High Streets into the beating hearts of their communities once again," the Minister of State for Communities and Local Government Grant Shapps said.
Adam Stewart, Marketing Director of Rakuten’s Play.com responded to the report, given that online retail was one of the factors cited in the high streets decline.
“Mary Portas’ ‘reinvigorating high streets’ report and the government response shows the need for a change in how the retail sector operates," he said.
"The decline of the high street is often linked to the increase in online sales, but a critique of the report was that it overlooked e-commerce completely. It’s important to note that the e-commerce sector, rather than cannibalising the high street, can be integral to revitalising it, encouraging offline sales, as well as customer loyalty. For example, by offering a voucher via mobile to redeem at the nearest store using location based services.
“Today’s shopper is a complex beast. They engage with a wide variety of channels when coming to a decision about what to buy and where to buy it. It’s important that retailers realise the potential to link the online and offline experience. They need to be pulled together into a coherent retail strategy by merchants if they are to maximise their bottom line but how to do this effectively can be understandably daunting for businesses, not least for small-to-medium sized retailers."
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