A recent report stating that city centres are in danger of becoming ghost towns because of changing shopping habits underlines the importance of making previously retail focused areas into ‘destinations’ says civic floral display expert Plantscape.
MPs in the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee are calling on the government to raise taxes for online retailers and reduce business rates for shopkeepers as well as investing in regeneration in order to halt the potential decline.
A fifth of UK retail sales now occur online with that proportion likely to grow.
“Some formerly thriving shopping areas are likely to become ghost towns and effectively close down altogether unless the government, councils, retailers, landlords and the local community act together,” said the committee.
The committee is also calling for planning reforms to create more “green spaces” in city centres, as well as more leisure, culture and social care services.
And it said High Street retailers themselves needed to focus on experience and convenience to lure shoppers back.
Plantscape, a member of the Association of Town and City Management, said the need for centres to become ‘places to be’ was imperative.
Sales executive Christine Redfern explained: “Town centres are no longer just places to do your shopping. They have to be experiences and enjoyable places to be if they are to thrive. Bars, restaurant, theatres and street entertainment are all things which require the physical presence of the participant – unlike shopping. And this means the environment needs to be relaxing and attractive. Filling the town with beautiful blooms all summer – and indeed all year – long can make a huge difference to the appeal of a place and have a positive impact on the local economy.”