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Big name retail failures 'distorting perception of high street'

The founding partner of campaign group Save the High Street, Alex Schlagman, has blamed a string of high profile retail administrations and Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) for distorting public perceptions of the high street.

Speaking to Drapers Schlagman said the economic picture he received from many independent retailers was very different from the media portrayal of the high street “doom and gloom”.

“There is a heightened interest in the high street even from when we started [in 2016]. Now it’s front page news, I think it’s an interesting as the statistics mask the realities.

“The media narrative is intensifying the problems on the high street which is beginning to form a self fulfilling prophecy. Businesses are coming to us with an optimistic message.”

Schlagman’s comments come as Save the High Street launched its 2018 manifesto which outlines how the high street can adapt to survive and thrive in the coming decade.

According to Schlagman many retailers are focusing on costs and neglecting how to implement strategies to spur growth. He also noted concerns over the rise of identical high streets which are dominated by chain stores rather than independent stores.

“There are parts of the world and the UK which are beginning to look like look-a-like high streets with no character or entrepreneurship just big chains. A lot of people are at risk of losing their local economy. There needs to be hubs for communities and hubs for businesses to thrive.”

As part of the manifesto, Save the High Street laid out eight drivers of growth and is also aiming to promote a ”more accurate and positive image” of the high street in the media.

The 2018 manifesto includes: 

  • Inspire local high street businesses to modernise pro actively and invest to grow
  • Educate local high street businesses on what they need to do now, next and later
  • Support local high street businesses in taking action, on their own or with third parties
  • Nurture innovative solution providers who can enable the high street of the future
  • Empower people and organisations who champion high streets, to maximise their impact
  • Invest in high streets as destinations with a considered brand, experience and strategy
  • Promote a more positive and accurate narrative about the high street in the media
  • Optimise sales performance based on data at a national, a local and a business level


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