The empty shops on our high streets are costing the economy up to £900 million a year.
These figures from the British Retail Consortium come after analysing the lost wages of those who worked in the 14.3% shops that are now empty on high streets in the UK.
This staggering figure is proof that something needs to be done to solve the challenges of the high street. Increasing pressure and competition from online Shopping and low priced supermarkets have left the retail industry desperately in need of some new idea's.
Consumer and retail expert, Kate Hardcastle, says it's time to take control of the high street. Kate's business, Insight with Passion, is launching a new project called Town Centre Rejuvenation, which targets 8 towns and cities in Yorkshire, the UK's worst hit region.
A team made up of retail experts will provide gudiance and advice to small shops and businesses to help them win back consumers.
Kate says:"The project is based on our concept of Retail Theatre. It’s about making businesses stand out, understanding what the consumer wants, how you can appeal to them and also show them how you’re meeting their needs. It’s not about small businesses spending loads of Money and getting in expensive consultants. It’s about delivering a better service and better products".
One of the key issues Kate will be encouraging the businesses to address is that of customer service. After being titled "Queen of Customer Service" by her clients, she believes customer service is one of the main issues driving people away from the high street.
Kate says: "Who wants to go somewhere where staff are rude, don’t answer your questions properly, can’t tell you about the product they’re selling. No one wants that. Customer service is the central thing I want to bring back to the high street. It doesn’t cost a penny and it’s easily done."
Town Centre Rejuvenation is due to go ahead in 2012 after a successful pilot in Huddersfield last year.
Bradford is one of the towns taking part in the rejuventation, with a fifth of shops in the city cenre being closed due to lack of care and interest amongst consumers and shop owners.