Do we need to close mainstreets?

The shocking number of empty shops in the UK has people asking if mainstreet centres need to be closed as they are just not being used.

From the emptyshops.wordpress.com website: ‘The latest Local Data Company report, entitled Too Many Shops makes it clear that we need to bring forward the prospect of alternative uses. Local authorities are already starting the process of turning empty shops into homes. And this week a Greater London Authority debate suggested councils would have to kill some high streets to save others.’ From: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/the-northerner/2012/sep/21/manchester-salford-high-street-retail-mary-portas-shops

While Australia’s economic decline has not been so radical, empty shops are popping up. Does this mean we have too many shops? Are mainstreets just about purchasing goods?

I don’t think so. Mainstreets are where people meet up with others, they are centre of the community. They are places where you purchase goods yes but also:

–          Where you can eat, drink, meet, laugh, ie connect with people

–          View and respond to art – visual street art or the music of buskers

–          Access services such as optometrists, accountants and tattoo artists!

–          See and experience innovative new products and experiences

But as Alice Woodhead, Principal , Link Strategy, suggested, “The retail sector is suffering from a lack of confidence and confidence is required to innovate. We need to be positioning ourselves as a knowledge economy as opposed to just focusing on commodities.”

Can we innovate enough to keep Mainstreets alive and well? Yes! Of course you can do all of the things listed above in your home or other places, but every community needs a heart, a central place you know you can always go to find everything you need – products, people and experiences.

If your mainstreet needs help finding its niche, maybe we can help. Drop us a line.

And don’t forget to see how others are revitalising their local economies at our film screening event 7 November 2012.

Are you a retailer that needs a confidence boost? Here’s our encouragement. Feel free to print it and put it somewhere you’ll see it everyday!

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