Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Shops must change to beat internet

Housing and local government minister Mary Prisk warned retailers must change to combat the rise of internet shopping

High street retailers must change the way they do business if they are to beat the rising threat of online shopping, a minister has warned.

Mark Prisk, the housing and local government minister, told the Daily Telegraph shop owners must do more if they are to win back customers who have turned to the internet.

The warning comes as the Department of Communities and Local Government awarded seven towns a share of £1 million in return for successfully breathing new life into their high streets.

Mr Prisk said the Government is doing "all it could" to help shops survive, including reducing business rates and encouraging local councils to be more flexible with parking.

"We will keep providing support where it is needed, but it takes more than funding to make this work," he told the Daily Telegraph. "As consumers, our behaviour has changed. High streets need to respond to that change if they are to prosper."

He added that local communities need to support their high street shops, with online shopping now accounting for 15% of retail trade.

The seven communities which who won a share of the grant are Herne Hill in south London, Northam Road in Southampton, Altrincham in Greater Manchester, Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, Gloucester and Rotherham.

Rotherham town centre was handed £268,058 of the High Street Renewal award for creating a strategy which focuses on supporting new and existing independent shops, which has resulted in an eight per cent increase in footfall.

Gloucester city centre received £133,057 for its launch of a night market while Herne Hill was given £93,057 for helping its market to thrive by cutting red tape.

The High Street Renewal fund is a new Government initiative, set up in the wake of retail guru Mary Portas's review into how to rejuvenate struggling town centres.

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