The picture on the high street

Small retailers up and down the country endured a difficult time in 2012, with various factors giving rise to a ‘trend of decline’ on the high street. The Keep Trade Local campaign from the Federation of Small Businesses cites increasing competition from supermarkets and out of town developments as one of the major challenges facing local retailers.

The Freeze Business Rates campaign, backed by the BRC, and the Forum of Private Business have also listed rising business rates as a key pressure on small business owners. They’re calling for a freeze on the 2.6 per cent rise planned for April 2013.

Analysts have warned of further store closures in 2013, saying that changing consumer behaviours – many now use local stores as showrooms or collection points for online orders – have left some larger retailers with too many physical stores. Footfall in December 2012 was down by 1.2 per cent on the previous year.

A number of established high street names were forced into administration in 2012, with electrical goods chain Comet among the most notable. HMV, Jessops and Blockbuster all fell into administration at the start of this year, putting thousands of jobs at risk.