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High street fashion sales beat pre-recession figures, study says

Fashion’s foothold on Britain’s high streets is now stronger than it was before the recession hit, new research has found.

Clothing and footwear’s share of town centre sales was 25.4% in 2013, up from 20.5% in 2007. In comparison, food and groceries accounted for 24.2% of sales last year, up from 16.9% seven years ago.

The University of Southampton published the initial findings ahead of a full report on the health of Britain’s high streets, set to be released in late August. The Department of Communities and Local Government commissioned the research.

The data states that whilst online retail sales have more than tripled since 2007, the associated rise of click-and-collect is projected to have a positive effect on the high street. Seven out of ten online shoppers are expected to prefer to collect goods themselves rather than risk missing a delivery at home within five years.

The full findings can be read here.

The figures were released in the same week it emerged Derby City Council wants big retail outlets such as supermarkets to pay a levy to support surrounding local firms, including those on the high street. 19 other local councils, including Preston, Brighton & Hove and Oxford, are supporting the proposed tax.

The additional business rates charge of up to 8.5% would apply to any large retail outlet with a rateable value of more than £500,000.

A similar levy already exists in Scotland. David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, warned English councils against going down this route.

He told Drapers: “Our levies sent a bad message to retailers about investing in Scotland. Putting different businesses on other sides of the fence to each other isn’t helpful. We would advise English councils: ‘don’t go down this route.’ Supplementary taxes aren’t a silver bullet for the high street.”

High streets minister Penny Mordaunt told Drapers sister title Retail Week she did not support the proposals. “If you’re putting up tax on a business it is ultimately going to be passed on to the consumer and I’m not in favour of that,” she said. However, Mordaunt praised the University of Southampton’s research, and said the data shows high streets to be “adaptable, creative and resilient.”

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