What is the future for the High Street

Gone are the days when the High Street was the place to be – whether that is for shopping, meeting friends, or passing the time of day.
Although the retail closure rate has slowed down, it is still around the 5,000 mark per year, and boarded up shops are a common site. In fact, if you walk down the High Street in Sunderland there are more seagulls than shoppers at certain times of day.
So, what is the answer? We certainly can’t look to traditional retail as the solution (Next announces reduced Christmas sales Jan 2017), and we can’t rely on local authorities to think out of the box (when have they ever?)as their funding continues to fall.
The answer has got to lie in individuality, and what the area needs, then shaking up the mix.
For an example, if there is a problem with attracting and retaining young people, why not talk to them, and build their solution right in the middle of the retail area – whether that is affordable housing, incubator business space, NHS support, cafes, bars…whatever. It is time to create new communities to take away the empty hearts left behind the internet revolution, that are attractive to new users of the high street, and valuable to all.

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