Retail parks ‘big problem’ for future of the high street

Timpson is headquartered in Manchester. (Photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

The boss of Timpson has sounded the alarm over the impact of retail parks on Britain’s high streets and warned they are contributing to the demise of town centres. 

James Timpson, who heads up the key cutting to dry cleaning business, said the out-of-town retail hubs are a “big problem” and taking footfall away from town centres. 

The 52 year old, who oversees the running of over 1,000 stores across the UK, described some high streets as “terrible” and said it was like “everyone had given up”. 

He went on to compare the UK with Germany “where they don’t have many retail parks” and as a result town centres there are “thriving,”  according to a report in The Daily Mail. 

Timpson’s comments are the latest to highlight the prolonged suffering of the retail sector amid a period of changing shopping habits and a clamp down on spending. 

The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium showed UK footfall decreased by -1.3 per cent in March year-on-year, up from -6.2 per cent  in February.

In London, footfall figures slumped by -4.6 per cent a slight improvement from the -6.2 per cent recorded the prior month. 

However, Timpson said he is “quite confident” in the sector. 

He said:”The high streets that I see are a massive variety of some where we can’t even open up a shop because there’s no vacancies and everyone’s there and it’s thriving and it’s busy.”

“And other places where it’s terrible and everyone’s just given up, they might as well just close up.

“So, the future of the high street, I’m quite confident about but you can’t see them as shops you have to see them as buildings.

“And actually, it needs long term, brave decisions with the councils really.”

He added: “So, if you go to Slough and Maidenhead, they’re changing the town centres dramatically by basically reducing the number of shops and instead putting cinemas and libraries and senior living and that kind of thing.”

“Whereas others, it needs serious investment – but not to make more shops, but to make them into something else.”

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