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Retailers call for changes to help the high street

Free parking, lower business rates and shorter leases are among the things retailers have said would help the high street reach its potential next year.

Retailers quizzed by fashion, home and gift trade show Autumn Fair, 86% of retailers said they were undaunted by Christmas trading prospects, with 85% seeing strong or steady company growth levels in 2013.

Yet their responses also revealed rising demand for the authorities to intervene to ensure the best possible trading environment as the country still attempts to emerge from the downturn. Lower business rates were the strongest response at 72%, while 66% cited free or lower car parking charges as a solution.

The study follows several pieces of bad news this week, with the OECD yesterday downgrading forecasts for the UK’s growth from a decline of 0.5% to 0.7%.

Commenting on the findings, Louise Young, divisional director of Autumn Fair International 2012, said, “It is encouraging to see that despite a climate of negativity, retailers are defying the status quo. Retailers have had to become nimble to survive these turbulent economic times, and these echoes of optimism reflect a confidence in their continued agility.

“These findings certainly don’t deny that retail is at the front line of the recession. Yet, if the industry is to recover to full health, we must stop scaremongering and embrace the real efforts retailers have made in recent years to adapt their offer to today’s consumers.”

Autumn Fair surveyed 845 independent, multiple and online retailers from across the UK during their most recent trade exhibition in September.

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