According to the British Retail Consortium, 2019 was the worst year on record for UK retail sales. PwC reported that in the first half of 2019 there was a net decline (the difference between the number that opened and closed) of 1,234 stores from Britain’s top 500 high streets.
Online sales in the UK increased by 5.6% in December 2019 when compared with December 2018. Online sales comprised 19% of all retailing in December 2019, which has led to a decrease in spending on the high streets.
New spending aimed at breathing new life into high streets and town centres may well impact local house prices. The UK Government has made a very public commitment to spending money in order to rebalance the economy, a process called ‘levelling out’.
Preston and Kendal are among the first 14 places which will take part in the pilot of the Government’s Future High Streets fund in 2020, with Lancaster and Morecambe both on the list of places shortlisted to receive future funding under the scheme.
10.7 million people, equivalent to 16% of the British population, live within 200 metres of a high street and may feel the benefit of this Government funding.
And with over 80% of all retail spend still off-line, will 2020 prove a better year for our high street? Only time will tell.