UK High Sreets in drastic decline, Close Brothers Asset Finance
The UK’s High Streets are in freefall, according to new research. Close Brothers Asset Finance surveyed 900 SME owners across the UK and RoI and found that 85% believe the High Street is in decline.
“We’ve rarely seen this level of consensus in our research and it reflects the respondents’ personal experiences of the High Street, whether as a consumer or a retailer,” says Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance.
“The issues facing the High Street are many and multiple, with unreasonable business rates seen as the single biggest cause of the problems, followed by parking charges and – rather surprisingly in third and fourth place – online shopping and changing shopping habits.”
Three in every five of those surveyed feel it’s inevitable that the UK’s High Streets will eventually disappear altogether. Over a quarter admit to selling more online, while a further 25% are actively seeking alternative sales channels to shore up their existing business model.
Not enough is being done by the government and local councils, according to 70% of those surveyed. “The UK’s SMEs are known for their innovation and ability to problem solve but these results are understandably concerning,” says Davies. “Many of those surveyed are directly affected, whether as retailers or suppliers, and they’re clearly stating that unless something is done to address their concerns, like business rates and parking, the decline will continue.”