Retailers will be able to open pop up shops more easily under new Government plans to scrap restrictions that hinder start up businesses from temporarily using vacant shops, boosting the high street.
Shoppers are spending less and reducing their high street visits as they turn to other retail channels. In the first quarter high street footfall was down 2% year-on-year, while the national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was flat at 11%.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles MP said: "Leaving empty shops to rot is a wasted economic opportunity that spoils the town centre - that is why we are proposing to scrap the damaging red tape that is keeping so many boarded up. This change can unleash our young entrepreneurs to open pop-up shops and turn the high streets into an exciting start-up launch pad."
In addition, the government has published a new guide on how use of high street areas can help attract customers. 'Re-imagining Urban Spaces to Help Revitalise our High Streets' identifies ways to lure shoppers into a town by making it a more social experience, as recommended in the Portas Review.
A new guide published today offers advice on how to make a town a more social experience, which is a recommendation self-styled retail guru Mary Portas made in her report to Government to help revitalise high streets. The new guide encourages town centres to remove street clutter for pedestrians, open more street stalls and pop up shops and offer attractions such as pavement cafes, play areas, outdoor libraries or street entertainment.
Interestingly, no mention is made of charity shops that currently take up a lot of the empty shop slack, and yet they pay only a quarter of the rents paid by mainstream retailers. Landlords also avoid tax by letting to charity shops, so the idea that the high street will be a more level-playing field once pop shops get the go ahead, is perhaps overstated.