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Data-driven high streets that bring local and online together could be the future, argues grassroots organisation

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Investment and education to create data-driven destination high streets are crucial to the future of shopping in the UK, says in its 2018 manifesto. The call comes in the week that figures collected by the BBC suggested that 22,000 retail jobs would disappear from the high street this year alone. brings together local businesses, local government and town centre organisations across the country and says that this is the most transformational period in the history of high streets and that the future will depend on how businesses act now. 

“If we can create and safeguard the conditions for success on the high street, a stronger, better connected, digitally enabled future high street will emerge,” it says. “If we work together and with conviction we can live into a world where the high street economy thrives for generations to come.”

It wants to see more local businesses move online to serve their communities, using technology to enable business improvements, while at the same time maintaining a data-driven high street that acts as a retail destination.

Its High Street Growth Model calls for local businesses to be inspired, educated and supported to modernise proactively, with investment for high streets to become destinations with a brand experience and strategy. Innovative solutions providers who can help bring about the high street of the future should be nurtured at the same time. launched in 2016 and today’s manifesto represents its latest update to its strategy.

The update comes in a week when BBC 5 Live’s Wake up to Money programme has released figures suggesting that more than 7,000 retail jobs have already gone this year, with a further 9,500 jobs due to go through planned closures, and 5,100 in doubt at Poundworld, now in administration. The job losses come both through business failures, such as at Maplin and Toys R Us , and through CVAs to reduce the size of retailers’ store estates as the way we shop changes. New Look, for example, is closing around 60 stores with the loss of almost 1,000 jobs, while House of Fraser is closing 31 stores with the loss of about 6,000 jobs

N Brown Group and M&S are consulting on closing stores, while Homebase, recently bought out by its management backed by restructuring specialist Hilco, is reported to be considering the future of up to 80 stores. 

Image courtesy of InternetRetailing Media

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