This is a tough time for high street retailers, caught in a pincer between weak demand and the impact of technological change. HMV joins Jessops and Comet as household names that have gone in to administration in the last 12 months, alongside over 50 other major retailers, with over 50,000 jobs being affected.
In the short term, we need real action from government to get the economy moving again. In the longer term, we need a proper industrial strategy for retail to promote multichannel retailing, combining online trade with vibrant high streets at the heart our communities.
There are retailers successfully combining conventional and online retail, like Argos or John Lewis. Collection doesn't just have to be from stores – Post Offices and other community sites could become pick-up points. We also need a more level playing field between the taxation and rates applying to conventional stores and those applying to online sellers.
More and more department stores are acting as the shop window for a range of retailers now, using space more efficiently to recreate the feel of the local market, creating new market opportunities for the small and the niche.
Shopping in the future can become an experience where conventional retailers can complement the success of online retailing. Government needs to work in partnership with the sector to help make this a reality.