New proposals out from the right wing think tank, The Policy Exchange, argue that a two-year freeze on business rates could help lift the ailing fortunes of many high street retailers. The think tank said that a fourfold increase in internet retailing since 2006 is the primary reason for the number of boarded-up shops.
But high street serial entrepreneur Dan Wagner, CEO of Powa Technologies, who has founded eCommerce technology solutions which now power high street names such as Tesco, Superdrug, Laura Ashley and Heal's, argues: "The Government must introduce a package of measures and support which have a greater chance of having a positive and sustainable recovery for the high street. A business rate holiday is not going to deal with the deeper and more fundamental issues facing retailers in the UK today. The environment companies are operating in is changing faster now than ever before. Rapid advances in technology are making it possible for consumers to purchase goods across a wide cross section of multi channel platforms. The availability of remote devices means that consumers will purchase around the clock. Companies need radical reinvention that acknowledges the pressures they face and delivers benefits that are more convincing and wide-reaching.
He adds: "The changes on the high street are the biggest since the arrival of the industrial revolution. If jobs are to be saved, then the Government must make it easy for companies to invest in the new platforms where their fast moving market is going. Failure to do so will result in an escalation of the turmoil we have seen which has led to the collapse of many high street brands in recent months."