Publications

- June 1, 2020: Vol. 14, Number 6

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Held back: The UK’s high streets will struggle to regenerate post-coronavirus if the country’s business rates system is not radically reformed

by Martin Davenport

The past few years have not been kind to the UK’s high streets. Last year, the number of shops lying empty soared to more than 7,500 according to the Local Data Company — the largest increase in five years — and many of the UK’s biggest brands hit the headlines with news they had entered the red zone or proceeded with company voluntary administrations (CVAs).

These failures can be traced back to a number of root causes, including reduced in-store footfall as online competition increased, the UK Government’s lack of support for the high street, and brands failing to keep up with the times.

At the time of writing, the world is currently tackling a new threat — the outbreak of COVID-19. Forced closures and a public lockdown, as part of the Government’s emergency measures to stop the spread of the disease, have already crippled many of the UK’s hospitality and retail businesses. Operators that were already struggling have effectively been put on ice. Howeve

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