Mary Portas – guest blog by Leigh Burnett

June 13, 2011

So called queen of shops Mary Portas has finally grabbed the ear of the Prime Minister David Cameron who wants a little advice on how local community stores can be saved from the onslaught of their bigger, more competitive national rivals.

Portas has long been running a campaign calling for the likes of  Tesco to work alongside rather than against their local counterparts using
their massive profits to help the very businesses that struggle because of them. Now in her new role as Government advisor she claims she will help to thrash out in the next six months, a serious plan to rescue the UK’s high streets.

But in reality can it really be done? Such campaigns have been
attempted before and whilst consumers may say they want to shop in
their local stores and support their local businesses convenience, time and cost savings more often than not win the battle for spend over a shopper’s conscience or desire to be supporting local

But equally the national giants don’t want to be seen as destroying the
communities into which they enter. With the accusations that their rollouts were causing a clone town effect still ringing in their ears many multiples need to support the efforts of the agents, developers
and shopping centres with which they work to sustain and grow local
businesses alongside their own.

Whatever happens Portas’ role will be an interesting one. While in
theory the bigger players could, as she suggests, put their hand in
their pockets to support the smaller, local retailers ultimately more
radical thinking – such as closer partnerships between national and
local retailers – is needed. That however is unlikely to happen.
Instead the real battle is in persuading local shoppers to dual shop –
supporting both their local butchers, bakers and greengrocers for
example – on top of their regular supermarket shops.

This article appears courtesy of Leigh Burnett of Plus Shops –


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