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Think about using local shops - or lose them

PUBLISHED: 14:05 03 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:41 03 June 2018

Results this week from AO World are expected to reflect the dent to consumer confidence in the past year. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Results this week from AO World are expected to reflect the dent to consumer confidence in the past year. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

Stories about the demise of the high street are hardly new.

Since the rapid rise of online retailing, the closure of stores and fears for more being under threat haven’t been far from the headlines.

Many reports have been commissioned about getting high streets and shopping centres to “reinvent” themselves.

One particular study which has been released this week, however, is a real stark wake up call.

The Centre for Retail Data Research - an organisation which exists to look at shopping patterns - has used the word “crisis” to describe the prospects for our region.

One in 20 shops in Norfolk faces shutting over the next four years.

The county has already lost 1350 stores between 2012 and 2017 as the retail industry battles greater online competition and changing consumer habits.

Weak growth, rising rents and rates and people wanting so-called “experiences and destinations” have taken their toll on traditional retailers.

So is it time to just give up then?

Absolutely not!

I live in Dereham and there are a range of initiatives going on there to encourage people to support our community and recreate the buzz which has been the lifeblood of market towns.

I work in Norwich and am proud of the vibrancy of our fine city, especially its retail offering.

From the malls to the Lanes to the rest of the centre, there is so much on offer - which is why so many people visit from such a wide area.

Of course there are problems and unfortunately some empty units.

The key now is to make sure the situation doesn’t turn into a real crisis.

The retailers have a responsibility to make sure they are competitive and looking after customers to give them what they want.

Crucially we all need to play our part to retain our high streets.

I know there’s the temptation to grab the cheapest deal online - but think about shopping locally and supporting your local stores.

If don’t use them, we’ll lose them.

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