'Government needs to step in to save our High Street' says retail expert

Insight specialist Kate Hardcastle the Government needs to do more to protect the future of UK high streets as the pandemic and the rise in online retail continues to impact Britain's favourite shops

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In 2021 we lost some iconic names from the high street like Debenhams, Peacocks and all of the Arcadia empire including Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge.

With a number of high street shops closing for good in 2021 insight specialist and business consultant Kate Hardcastle MBE has given her expert opinion on what the future holds for Britain's high streets in 2022.

Kate Hardcastle MBE is a insight specialist for multiple areas of the retail industry from Insight with Passion.
Kate Hardcastle MBE is a insight specialist for multiple areas of the retail industry from Insight with Passion.

As the pandemic progresses and the jab rollout has continued the end of the pandemic is in sight, and there is hope for the Britain's stores according to Hardcastle.

Speaking exclusively to GB News the business consultant said: "You can see that things like vaccinations and things looking like they were getting better, have improved spend"

The pandemic has had an unexpected benefit for smaller market towns and local shops as many have worked from home our local communities have benefited away from larger city centres.

The business consultant said: "In market towns and smaller towns, where many of us actually reside and we've gone back to shopping local because it was easier."

Kate's optimism also came with a warning. When asked if "partygate" was a distraction from issues like the cost of living that will affect consumers and local high streets Kate said more needed to be done by the Government to help generate growth on a local and national level.

"I would describe our Government as distracted. Absolutely. And does that mean that they're able to deliver on the rebuilding of areas that we need post pandemic? Doesn't look like it. It's not a conversation that I'm seeing happening anywhere near enough.

"Let us get on with having the people in power that can enable and ensure that the development we need and investment we need to see actually starts happening, because the longer we're distracted the longer it's going to take to get the solutions"

“So let us get a plan for our high streets. Let us make sure that we understand they are beyond any zone, just for commerce and retail. They are places to be, and let's hope that our generation and the next generation can actually enjoy the place we deserve as shoppers as citizens, and as people that want to be out amongst other people.”

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the high street as shoppers have moved to online and work from home. In 2020 17,500 high street shops closed, the largest net loss of shops in the UK on record ever.

The official data for the total net loss of shops for 2021 has not been released yet but the data for the first six months of last year indicates another net loss for the high street. In the first half of 2021, 5,251 chain stores closed from Britain's high streets. This information collected by the Local Data Company clearly shows another huge hit for Britains retail industry but also a silver lining of some recovery for the retail sector that calls for optimism.

The business consultant from Insight with Passion called to the Government to make clear and effective plans that were tailored to individual high streets for rejuvenation.

Kate said: "A one stop shop, budget or plan isn't going to work. This is about the movement of how we as citizens and consumers are gonna evolve and change, and it's going to keep rapidly moving over the years.

"So our high street absolutely isn't dead. A high street has to evolve and develop, but could it develop into world-class high streets? Right now, people are trying to reinvent and develop this. But I absolutely know that the winning formula or the right ideas, the fluidity to move it. The fact that every place needs to also have its own twitches and specialisms and identity, and it needs passion."