Mary Portas High Street report

This morning I was asked by Time 106.6 to comment on Mary Portas review of the high street she handed back to the government today.

My first comment was asking the question as of why the government chose Mary Portas, a TV celebrity who, although she has worked for high street names, has never owned her own shop. Is the government once again playing the celebrity card? After all it makes good publicity to mention that a high profile TV personality is looking into a high profile issue. Personally I would have preferred a real life entrepreneur. Don’t take me wrong, I do enjoy watching Mary dolling out her advice to lost shop owners.

A few suggestions Mary made really jumped at me immediately. She suggested that the government taxed out of town shopping centres car park. I think not! You know that the retailers will not pay for this and car parks will then become pay on exit. I feel that car owners are already taxed enough. The other suggestion was the relaxation of delivery time. The small shops will not be equipped to take deliveries in the middle of night, who will take advantage but yet again my good friends the supermarkets…

I agree with Mary that markets will bring life, a sense of community and variety back to the high street. A national market day would be good. Market traders have had it tough in the past few years. In this time of unemployment creating more market will only help with creating more employment. I also feel that becoming a market trader gives an insight to any budding retailer in the difficulties of trading on the high street without too much financial risk.

There is already a movement called Independents day that promotes the idea that everybody should buy at least one thing from an independent retailer on July 4th every year. Why not tag on this one?

Mary also mentions rents and rates as a massive issue as of why shops are still empty. Rents are in the hands of private landlord so a little difficult for the government to do anything. My suggestion there is to treble the rates on empty shops, this would help landlords making the right decision on their next tenant… As for rates, they are in the hand of the government who sets them only upwards every year. I bet you that nothing will change there!

Town Teams already exist in most towns so not quite sure what this suggestion would change. In my opinion Town teams have very little power on shop owners and landlords. I am yet to be convinced of their efficacy.

Another suggestion was to control the spread of betting shops. How about stopping the spread of charity shops, pound shops, phone shops and Starbucks clones? That would certainly help too. Charity shops get rates relief so why not give rates relief to new retailers for a number of years to help them getting set up. This would bring variety to the high street.

The good news is that Mary’s report has already created one job as today the government announced that a Minister of the high street will be appointed…

1 comment for “Mary Portas High Street report

  1. helen
    January 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    A thoughtful post as usual Thierry, I am now off to Google Independents Day – sounds great and an ideal PR idea for any retailers who need a bit of help! Helen

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