WI pitches in to end high street crisis

The Women’s Institute is throwing its influence behind a campaign to save Britain’s high streets and is hoping to end the perpetual decline of town centres.


Almost 87 per cent of the 4,000 members of the WI at the group’s annual national conference voted to make the issue the focus of its lobbying efforts.

The group’s 212,000 strong membership will turn its attention to boosting local town centres, small retailers and communities. There will be a lobbying campaign on a local and national level and it hopes to use its strength to influence Government policy.

The group will be hoping to have more of an impact on town centres than retail guru Mary Portas, who was appointed by the Government to review the UK’s high streets and come up with a regeneration plan. The plan included a number of Portas Pilot towns, which have been criticised for not leading to any improvements.

Almost one in eight shops is currently empty according to the British Retail Consortium, and the national town centre vacancy rate reached 11.9 per cent in April 2013 – the highest rate since the survey began in July 2011.

Marylyn Haines Evans, chair of the public affairs committee and proposer of the resolution, is quoted in The Guardian saying: “We are not calling on our members to boycott online shopping or to stop using out-of-town shopping centres and major supermarkets. What we are asking is that they go first to their local shops.”

Each year the WI selects one issue to campaign on and lend support to. Previous campaigns the WI has supported include increasing the number of midwives in the UK, and food labelling, which helped achieve a commitment from the European Parliament to introduce mandatory country of origin labelling on all fresh meat.

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 customerservices@marketingweek.com

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