By Daniel Hunter
The nation’s top shops have been celebrating after they received the accolade of being officially crowned the nation’s best at a Westminster awards ceremony.
The Awards ceremony marks the end of a summer long search to find the Great British High Street.
The national competition, launched by the Future High Street Forum, celebrates the achievements of local people in making their town centres great places to live, work and shop.
More than 135 entries from across the UK where whittled down to winners in 7 categories who were chosen because of their ability to innovate, collaborate and adapt to changing consumer habits.
The winners are Norwich Lanes (city category), Colwyn Bay (coastal), Barnoldswick (local centre), Broxburn (village), Wantage (town centre), Kingston (London) and Belper (market town) which was also named overall winner.
High Streets Minister Penny Mordaunt said:
“This competition celebrates the hard work of local people, drives forward their innovative ideas and makes sure those schemes that are tried and tested are shared.
“Across the country there is great work happening on the ground to adapt the high street to the needs of the modern consumer and I’m determined we capture this in our booklet so others can learn valuable tips and see what works for them.”
The winners, announced in November, will receive a share of prize money and support from a fund worth £50,000 as well as dedicated support and mentoring from industry experts, sponsored by Boots, Costa Coffee, BIRA, Post Office and Marks and Spencer. This could range from one to one coaching or advice on creating business plans, to workshops on digital marketing.
Simon Roberts, managing director of Boots UK and Ireland and co-host of the event, said:
“High Streets are at the very heart of our communities, however they will need to adapt if they are to remain places where people shop, spend their leisure time and live. During the judging I have seen fantastic work being delivered, with local communities demonstrating passion and commitment together with an intense sense of pride in ‘their town centre’. The Great British High Streets Awards is a brilliant chance to celebrate what has been achieved.
“These Awards are not the end, we need to take this opportunity to learn from what works to ensure that high streets remain a relevant and valuable part of local communities, adapting to the changing needs of the customer.”
A recent report by Southampton University found that far from struggling, innovations like click-and-collect are starting to bring life back to high streets. The report found people are now doing more top-up grocery shopping and visiting town centres for many reasons and not just to shop.
The government is committed to supporting high streets as part of its long-term economic plan and has provided local shops and businesses with a billion pound package of investment that includes targeted business rate discounts, sensible planning changes and action that reins in over-zealous parking practices.
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