High Street (2)

Replacing struggling retail space with other stores will not help to revive the High Street, a think tank has warned.

The Centre for Cities believes councils should focus their attention on bringing attractive, high-paying office jobs to city centres instead. In a report, it claims that people are more likely to return to city centres for cafes, restaurants and lunch spots if there are good jobs available.

"Successful city centres feature fewer shops, but are supported by 'knowledge-based' office jobs," it said.

Centre for Cities chief executive, Andrew Carter, said: "We must remember that a successful High Street is the result, not the driver, of a successful city economy.

"Instead of trying to replace failed shops with more retail, investors and policy makers should focus their strategies on making struggling city centres attractive places to do business and spend leisure time - not just to shop."

In November, PwC reported that over 1,000 shops had closed across the UK's 500 High Streets in just the first six months of 2018.

Reviving the High Street has been a big talking point for business leaders and national and local politicians for a number of years, with business rates and the growth of online shopping causing big problems. However, Centre for Cities described these as "red herrings".

"The real challenge for retailers is insufficient footfall in their city centres, due to the lack of jobs in these central locations, which would provide customers during the week," it said.