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Former Wickes and Iceland boss warns almost half of retailers are in danger of going bust

‘The High Street is finished’: Former Wickes and Iceland boss warns almost half of retailers are in danger of going bust as he urges Government to hand more power to local councils to save town centres after lockdown

  • Bill Grimsey warned ‘the old high street is finished’ after the Covid-19 lockdown 
  • He urges the Government to give more powers to local authorities to save shops
  • He said the PM’s guidance to ‘hit the high street’ will not rescue the economy
  • This comes after high street shops were allowed to reopen from June 15
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The coronavirus lockdown has ‘accelerated’ the demise of high streets, as former Wickes and Iceland boss warns that almost half of retailers are in danger of ‘going bust’.

Retail expert Bill Grimsey said nearly half of retailers were already in danger and increases in online shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic has sped up the process.

He said the ‘old high street is finished’ and town centres can only survive if the Government gives more powers to local authorities and people who have a ‘vested interest in their communities’. 

High street shops across the UK (Regent Street, pictured) were allowed to reopen from June 15 after the coronavirus lockdown with social distancing measures in place

Retail expert Bill Grimsey said nearly half of retailers were already in danger and online shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic has sped up the process (pictured, shoppers queuing on Regent Street)

Retail expert Bill Grimsey said nearly half of retailers were already in danger and online shopping amid the coronavirus pandemic has sped up the process (pictured, shoppers queuing on Regent Street)

Former Wickes and Iceland boss Mr Grimsey (pictured) said the 'old high street is finished' and can only survive if the Government gives more powers to local authorities

Former Wickes and Iceland boss Mr Grimsey (pictured) said the ‘old high street is finished’ and can only survive if the Government gives more powers to local authorities

Mr Grimsey’s comments followed the third Grimsey Review, which looked into the state of the UK high street, being published on Saturday.

Among its 27 recommendations are calls to replace ‘outdated’ business rates with a sales tax.

It also calls for unused properties to be forced back onto the market so they can be bought by community trusts to serve their neighbourhoods. 

Mr Grimsey said: ‘Before the pandemic, 50% of businesses were in danger of going bust. Covid has accelerated and exposed the process of people ditching bricks-and-mortar retail and shopping online instead.

‘People are starting to think differently, when they come out of lockdown, their attitudes will change for the better, they will start to appreciate their local communities, breathing cleaner air and enjoying the wildlife.

‘They have realised there is a better life out there, built around those who have a vested interest in their communities and not by big distant investors, and I believe this has been highlighted by the pandemic.’

The team behind the Grimsey Review argued ‘only localism on steroids’ could revive failing high streets. 

The report also called on the Land Registry to open up its database to give transparency about who owns town centres. 

Mr Grimsey said the Prime Minister needs to realise that urging 'everyone to hit the high street' will not rescue the economy (pictured, Foot Locker shoppers on Regent Street)

Mr Grimsey said the Prime Minister needs to realise that urging ‘everyone to hit the high street’ will not rescue the economy (pictured, Foot Locker shoppers on Regent Street)

Customers are also subject to temperature checks at some department stores before they are allowed to enter as department stores reopen across Britain (pictured, Regent Street)

Customers are also subject to temperature checks at some department stores before they are allowed to enter as department stores reopen across Britain (pictured, Regent Street)

Mr Grimsey said the Prime Minister needs to realise that urging ‘everyone to hit the high street’ won’t solve anything or rescue the economy. 

He said: ‘There needs to be a huge shift in power from Westminster to our local communities. Whitehall isn’t able to deal with this, and as they continue trying to influence a revival, buildings continue to lay empty.’

This comes after high street shops across the UK were allowed to reopen from June 15 after the coronavirus lockdown, with social distancing measures in place.

Customers are also subject to temperature checks at some department stores before they are allowed to enter.

Marks & Spencer, TK Maxx and River Island are amongst stores that have started to reopen across Britain this week.

Hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, pubs and restaurants will stay closed until at least July, as the Government says the risk of transmission is higher due to prolonged contact. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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