Portas review criticises supermarket non-food expansion

Mary Portas: her review of Britain's high streets is published today
Mary Portas: her review of Britain's high streets is published today

Retail expert Mary Portas has taken aim at supermarkets and out-of-town retail parks in her review of Britain's high streets, recommending an "exceptional sign off" policy for all new out-of-town developments and requiring large retailers to mentor local businesses.

Portas was commissioned by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills in May to come up with ideas for reversing the decline of the high street as a shopping destination.

Published today( 13 December), the review warns that Britain's high streets are at a "crisis point", with town centre vacancy rates having doubled over the past two years.

Portas takes particular issue with the major supermarkets expanding into non-food.

Portas said: "What really worries me is that the big supermarkets don't just sell food anymore, but all manner of things that people used to buy on the high street.

"They've been expanding their reach into homewares, stationery, books, flowers – you name it. Supermarkets now allocate more than one third of their floor space to non-food sales."

Portas highlights particularly worrying trends, including Sainsbury's being the seventh-largest clothing retailer in the UK, Tesco housing more than 100 opticians, and Morrisons accounting for 50p in every £10 spent on health and beauty products.

As a result, the review lays out 28 recommendations that aim to "level the playing field" between out-of-town developments and the high street.

Recommendations include introducing a Secretary of State "exceptional sign off" for all new out-of-town developments, large retailers being required to support and mentor local businesses, and retailers reporting on their support of local high streets in their annual report.

Portas also recommends that there should be high-street deregulation to remove red tape in order to provide a boost to the high street.

In response to the review, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The high street should be at the very heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment. So it is vital that we do all that we can to ensure they thrive.

"The Government will now review Mary's recommendations and we will publish our response next spring."

Although providing a much-needed boost to the high street, the review is likely to concern retailers such as Dixons that rely heavily on out-of-town developments.

It has been reported that Portas declined to meet with Dixons, fashion retailers Next and Primark, and stationary chain WH Smith for her review.

A Department for Business spokesperson said: "Mary Portas worked hard on gathering evidence and producing her report and its recommendations to the Prime Minister.

"Her widely recognised expertise and public profile has raised awareness of the review, high streets and the issues they face, encouraging debate and consideration among businesses, local authorities and communities.

"She listened to people through her high street visits, events and meetings, while she received nearly 3,000 survey responses. More than 250 organisations have engaged with the review."

Follow Matthew Chapman at @mattchapmanuk

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network