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An Overview of the Mary Portas Review - An Introduction

Samuel Thompson - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Portas Review —( Image taken from The Portas Review )— It seems fitting to start 2012 with a quick glimpse back at one of the bigger stories of late 2011; by the looks of things the results and suggestions found in the Portas Review are likely to keep cropping up again throughout this year (and beyond), so an idea of what the Review contained now will likely save a lot of time and confusion in the future.

A Quick Introduction

Back in May 2011 Mary Portas - something of a retail guru and popularly known for her Mary Queen of Shops (and lately of Frocks too) TV series - was commissioned by the government to head an independent review into the state of the high street. On December 13th she delivered her report, which can be found here.

Should we pay attention?

There's always a (usually justifiable) concern when a celebrity of any stripe is put in charge of something important that we're seeing a horribly cynical PR attempt complete with lots of talking but a great deal less walking.

Thankfully this isn't the case here. The Review is refreshingly realistic. There's very little of the namby-pamby to be found within, and genuine issues are covered in depth without recourse to blame-games.

That said, what the Review primarily seeks to address is ways to combat the odds stacked against the high street. And those odds are huge.

Fancy some stats?

Here's a few examples of some of the issues as they stand:

  • Less than half of retail spending is done on the high street.
  • Supermarkets account for over 97% of total grocery sales.
  • Nearly one in six shops stand vacant.

What's wrong and how can we change it?

The Review covers in detail many of the issues faced by the high street and - more importantly - puts forth a 28-point list of recommendations on how to solve some of them.

Over the coming weeks I'll be putting together summaries of the problems covered and a guide to Portas' recommendations.

Update 1 - The government has declared that it'll be publishing its response to the Review this spring; with any luck the posts that follow will put you in a position to make your own mind up about the situation as it stands and the potential efficacy of whatever the government decides to do.

Update 2 - Responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Portas Review has been given to Grant Shapps MP, the Minister for Housing & Local Government

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