Pop-ups have become a key feature of the modern British high street.
Head for your local high street, town centre or main road shopping strip. Wherever you stand – whether it’s High St Kensington, London or Yorkshire Street in Oldham – you’re likely to notice something. Just look at those empty shops.
As the double-headed demon of a crippling recession and a rise in internet and out of town shopping batters high streets and stores such as HMV, La Senza, Peacocks, Blacks and Past Times, the number of empty shopping units expands. And the more empty shops there are, the less appealing our towns become to visit. The less appealing a place is to visit, the less footfall it gets and the more neighbouring businesses struggle. Then they close down and before you know it you’re queuing to get into a retail park.
A recent Government report called Understanding High Street Performance, which complements Mary Portas’s report on high streets, points out the severe pressures that towns and retailers face. Shops have seen their rents, business rates and material costs rise significantly, while at the same time being squeezed by the supermarkets and online retailers. Add that to a crippling downturn and the result is that between 2000 and 2009 the UK lost 15,000 town centre stores. That means that one out of six shops lies vacant.
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