Endsleigh

Endsleigh

December 14, 2010 11:45 ET

The UK High Street is Under Threat

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Dec. 14, 2010) - The rise of chain retailers and their aggressive expansion, combined with poor planning controls and low investment levels, may see hundreds of high street shops around the UK facing closure.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said, "our high streets are under threat from a perfect storm as reduced investment, poorly applied planning rules and aggressive supermarket expansion converge to put hundreds at risk."

According to a study conducted by the ACS, these developments have caused more than 12,000 independent high street shops to close their doors in the past year. The study found that of all the shops seeking planning approval, 90% were the UK's most popular supermarkets, namely Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons. The majority of these approved developments are to be built out of town or on towns' edges, and will offer their own parking and a one-stop retail offering.

The attempts of high street shops to attract customers have been less than successful and have resulted in what one study called, "clone towns." Many of the high streets throughout the UK now lack character and are dominated by an identical mix of national chain stores.

The migration away from high streets shops to national chains has left many independent shop owners in disarray, with little hope for the future of their shops. Lowman believes that another cause for the closure is national chains' financial ability to push through the planning approval process, leaving little or no opportunity for independent store development.

"Rising costs, including business rates, rents and service charges, along with parking and access difficulties and a failure to manage and invest in town centres, are the key reasons some high streets are in trouble. Their future will be secured by tackling these issues, not attempting to handicap other forms of retailing," says Lowman.

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