Action needed to stop High Street ‘bleeding to death’

Drastic action must be taken urgently to stop the traditional High Street “hemorrhaging further and bleeding to death”, according to Birmingham-based chartered surveyors Johnson Fellows.

Nick Wint, partner at the retail sector specialists, issued the warning amid more news of major brands closing hundreds of High Street stores across the UK leading to thousands of job losses.

Pressure from internet retailing and the squeeze on consumer spending caused by the gloomy economic news and rising unemployment have combined to make trading conditions extremely difficult, he said.

“In terms of our Landlord and Tenant Department, we have enjoyed a steady year but the in-town retail market is now suffering from the big squeeze and the lack of consumer spending, said Mr Wint.

“In this respect 2011 has been another difficult year for the High Street, a trend which is set to continue for the foreseeable future. The uncertainty with the Euro and the underlying economic climate means most are expecting little or no growth in 2012 either.

“There is no doubt that the High Street has come under ever increasing pressure from internet retailing with the most recent statistics now showing more than 50% of consumer spend is now off British High Streets. The problem has been exacerbated by the competition from out of town and the fact that many High Streets simply no longer cater for what the consumer wants.”

He added: “Simply put, the town centre needs to reinvent itself to tempt the shoppers back. Faced with free and easy parking at shopping centres and large superstores is there any wonder why the great British shopper has voted with its feet? It is simply not a level playing field and until the local authorities and Government realise this it will be very difficult to see how we can stop the High Street from haemorrhaging further and eventually bleeding to death.

“It will be interesting to see the impact of Mary Portas’ Retail Review will have.”

Johnson Fellows has a strong team of senior surveyors specialising in the negotiation of rent reviews, lease renewals and lease re-gears in all sectors of the retail property market. It is able to operate on a national and regional basis according to the requirements of the client. It also has extensive knowledge and experience in arbitration, expert, and court proceedings and benefits from having a RICS appointed expert and arbitrator within the team.

The company enjoyed a generally good 2011, primarily serving the ‘in-town’ retail sector around the UK where fee income targets have been met. Due to prudent management, the business continues to expand steadily and has made a significant investment in its ratings department.