The Portas Review: What small businesses think

Ms Portas was commissioned to write the review of town centres by David Cameron after an increasing number of shops closed at the beginning of this year. According to figures from the Local Data Company, there are 159 towns in the UK where at least a fifth of the shops are empty.

Speaking ealier this week, Portas, who's best known for her TV program, Mary Queen of Shops, declared new businesses needed to be given tax breaks because they couldn't afford to base themselves on Britain's high streets and called for car boots to take place on the high street.

She said, "We've got car boot sales in some really horrible car parks off the M25. Why would you go there? Put them on the high street. It makes absolute sense."

But are her recommendations what small businesses really want?

George Frost from Make it Cheaper

"We applaud any measures to help fill empty shops but it's equally important not to let the new tenants become sitting ducks. In our area (Waterloo), we are working with the local BID to help newcomers avoid costly mistakes."

Stephen Robertson, general director of British Retail Consortium, said:

"Prioritising action on business rates and parking is exactly right. These are the key concerns for customers and retailers."

Ben Brown, Chief Technical Officer from VouChaCha, said:

"It is no surprise that Mary Portas found UK High Streets in such a shocking state given that many retailers are burying their head in the sand when it comes to understanding modern shopping trends, including how consumers use mobile devices while out shopping."

"The Portas Review states that by 2015 we'll be spending more than £40 billion a year through mobile devices, yet both big and small retailers are still ignoring the potential of mobile. With many retailers now making up to 10% of their revenue through mobile devices, not doing anything as a strategy when it comes to mobile carries a huge opportunity cost."

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"The planning system is hugely important in shaping the character of our high streets and town centres and so our local communities. It is vital that the Government and councils take note of these

recommendations - in particular that the provisions in the new National Planning Policy Framework are strong enough to provide the protection needed since there has been a notable shift towards out of town retail developments in the last 10 years.

Christine Cross, chief retail adviser to PwC, said:

" The review gives some welcome cheer for the UK high street with ways to boost the footfall and lower operating costs.  Certainly the revival of town markets for both food and non-food would stimulate small producers to focus on the consumer and provide some additional theatre on the high street.

"The questions are around speed and practicality of implementation. We have already flagged that many retailers are finding they have too much space on the high street, as out of town and online retail grows, and reinvigorating town centres that rely on expensive and minimal car parking is a real challenge. Tax breaks need to be given to chains as well as independent entrepreneurs to stimulate the market."

To see Mary Portas' 28 points to save the high street, click here












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