Local authorities across the UK are ‘accelerating the decline of the high street’ with unnecessary road closures, according to the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira).
Bira has been inundated with calls from members across the country concerned that post-lockdown accessibility issues are significantly impacting trade.
The association (which represents independent cookshops and housewares stockists) reports that, in many cases, local councils are ploughing ahead with road closures, high street pedestrianisations, and the removal of car parking spaces – all essential for shoppers to reach independent shops. Bira recently called on Boris Johnson to intervene, with a plea to ‘repopen our high streets.’
This followed on from Bira’s recent exclusive membership survey, which revealed that three quarters (75%) of respondents said trade is being detrimentally impacted by lockdown road closures. The poll showed that of those affected, 55% said trade had been impacted ‘significantly’, while a further 20% admitted the closures had affected trade ‘a little’.
Janet Swift of Swift’s Hardware and Home in Longridge said sales had “plummeted” since road closures had road closures had been imposed with “no discussion.”
Meanwhile, Kate Lacelles of Lavender Blue, a homewares and gift store in Market Harborough, stated: “Footfall has massively decreased due to road closures. There are no queues in our streets – just very low footfall numbers.”
Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s ceo comments: “It appears that many local authorities are doing their best to further accelerate the decline of their high streets with road closures, and removal of car parking spaces.”
He continues: “The pavements are generally not that busy, and people still do not want to use public transport. The local authorities are doing a good job of supporting retail parks instead of their local business communities.”
Top: A road closed on the approach to Sheffield city centre.