Viewpoint: Richard Dodd, head of media and campaigns, BRC

Many of our high streets are in trouble, that’s certainly true. Our footfall and vacancies monitor shows that at the moment 1 in 9 high street stores are empty and this is higher in some parts of the UK than others. The worst is in Ireland where it is 1 in 5.

Richard Dodd

Those figures have been worryingly high for a long time. Customers have been reigning in their spending, which is compounding what have been some long-standing difficulties in many town centres.

It’s true that our high streets need to evolve and develop in order to secure their futures but they need help to do that, it won’t happen of its own accord. It won’t be the same in every case and it will often mean that buildings that have been shops in the past won’t be in the future.

We need to secure alternative use for them because that maintains an economic contribution to those communities in terms of jobs and services. There will be some shops that are better off converted to residential use. The worst thing is to leave them as boarded-up buildings blighting those neighbourhoods and making it difficult for businesses in the area trying to battle on.

It’s also the cost of doing business, especially business rates, which have gone up significantly in the past two years and another due this April. There is also the issue of parking, access and not investing in town centres often enough over a period of years – failing to make them into safe and attractive places that people want to go to.

Our high streets need to evolve and need help, and we are still pushing central government for a business rates freeze.

If the rise goes ahead, it stands to cost the Government more because it might not get the extra revenue it planned for. We are not asking for a handout, we are just asking for recognition that retail has already made a big contribution over the past two years. Asking for even more, through increased business rates, will only impose more damage.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here