It is always important for us to keep an eye on what is going on in the property market so that we can continue to make sure that we are able to provide cover that reflects the needs of the sector. Aviva’s recent edition of ‘Property View’ kept us up to date with many hot topics in the property market but perhaps none more pertinent than the plight of the independent high street retailer. As a Broker with a strong local presence it is key for us to be able to support the insurance needs of independent retailers as a loss is likely to effect such a business to a greater degree than a high street giant.
Whilst the Economy is clearly performing at a ‘pre-recession’ level this has come from areas such as manufacturing and it’s clear from a walk down any local high street that the smaller retailers continue to feel the pinch. Speaking with a wholesale supplier of children’s clothing accessories last week it was clear that the high street pinch is being felt at their level as orders and indeed clients have begun to drop and he is having to identify more niche avenues not covered (and in some cases lorded over) by giants such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda who are no longer content with simply selling broccoli and beans but who we are now just as likely to go to for boots and beanies.
In 2011, retail and high street guru – TV’s Mary Portas – was tasked by the government to review the plight of the high street and suggest ways in which it can be revived and sustained. So what did the no nonsense personality uncover? Well the review came up with 28 seperate suggestions which can be found here –
So what did the government say? Well broadly speaking it appeared to have taken on board and accepted Ms Portas’ findings. They created a £10,000,000 High Street Innovation Fund to assist 100 Local Authorities tackle the issues of riots and empty shops. In addition they have been offered advice and support by high street retailers (led by Boots) for 12 towns chosen for ‘revive the high street’ pilot schemes. So did the review have a lasting effect and is the High Street surviving or thriving (or indeed neither)?
There is some conceding that nothing suggested would be a quick fix. Years of high street decline was not going to be reversed easily. In a more recent review of how things are progressing Mary Portas is upbeat and positive on the future of the high street. Citing Government investment but conceding that it has been slower in coming than perhaps was ideal. She states that perhaps the realisation of the downward spiral was enough for people in the community to invest in the high street, both in terms of money and time. The pop-up shop scheme has really taken off and I can think of several examples where this has occurred locally. In addition there is a real shift in the attitudes and values people attach to independently crafted or ‘artisan’ goods. Bakery’s, craft / art collectives, local food producers have all been able to use vacant properties to kick start their business, either through a pop-up scheme or by using locally funded discounts on business rates or similar.
Once up and revived a high street needs to be sustained. Proper Insurance should be seen as part of this protection. It is important to us that you as a business owner (large or small) are properly protected. This doesn’t mean taking out every product under the sun but benefiting from a) a proper review of your insurance needs and b) ongoing risk management advice. – in this equation a + b = peace of mind.
We love hearing from our clients and so would love to know where you think the high street is in terms of growth, what your struggles might be, whether you have any concerns etcetera.
You can read Mary’s further musings on her high street review by visiting: