How can we save the high street?


This article was first published on the Guardian on 15 January 2013. 

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.