Could the fall of the high street help the housing crisis?
It has been estimated that in 2012 an average of 30 shops per day were closing in Britain and that by the end of the year, empty shops accounted for around 10% of all the shops on the high street. As the problem becomes worse isn’t it about time someone examined why this is happening and what can be done to turn the situation from a horrendous negative into a positive?
It would appear that there are two major factors causing mayhem on the high streets, the first and most obvious answer is the recession. As we enter a triple dip recession and with commercial funding tighter than ever preventing borrowing and banks calling in commercial over draughts and loans, thereby restricting a traders ability to weather any bad periods many companies are simply not financially liquid enough to cope.
Couple this with the impact of the recession on families, struggling to cope with the increase in the cost of utilities like gas and electricity, fuels such as petrol and diesel and the rising price of basic food stuffs like bread and milk means that consumers are restricting what they spending and attempting to live with a tighter budget.
The second major factor in the decline of the high street is that the lifestyle the modern population is currently living is rapidly changing. More and more customers are spending more and more time online and with so many advances in technology shopping online is fast, reliable, easy and safe. The internet can now be used to purchase everything from clothes, holidays and movies to a weekly food shop and everything can be delivered to their front doors, without anyone having to leave the sofa!
As this market has developed, huge advances made to wireless internet technology has given consumers the capability to order everything they require from a mobile phone! However these lifestyle changes run deeper than just technology, trips to regional shopping complexes are now viewed as a day trip as well as a shopping trip, Bluewater shopping complex in Kent contains over 50 places to eat, a multiplex cinema, ice rink In winter, an exhibition centre, children’s play parks and nurseries, hairdressers and beauticians, dentistry work can be carried out here and even a spa, all under one roof!
Recent research has shown that only 42% of the UK’s population visits their local high street on a regular basis!
Though some major chains such as Argos have fared well in the recession by adapting to a strong online presence, others companies such as HMV and Blockbuster have fallen in administration as movies and music are cheaper to order online and can now even be streamed direct to your sitting room instantly.
Although the news only reports on the big brands it isn’t just the big companies failing. Hundreds of small independent shops are finding it difficult to compete in an increasingly competitive market place. Supermarkets are now sticking everything from milk to TV’s to Tents and toys putting huge pressure on all smaller traders.
At some stage in the future the UK will emerge from the recession but our lifestyle changes are here for good and this means serious changes need to be made to UK high street to stop them becoming desolate no-go areas.
As this commercial problem continues to claim dozens more victims each day another problem the UK has been facing for many years is also rapidly growing. The UK has a population growing at approximately 7% per year and yet we are suffering from a monumentous lack of affordable housing, with archaic planning laws stopping the development of brown land and garden sites the problem has is spreading dramatically. One report has even estimated that by the year 2020 we will be suffering from a housing shortage the size of Birmingham city!
Yet could a possible solution be the conversion of shops into residential housing?
Even though this would not solve all of the country’s problems it would a significant step forward. Working on the basis that 30 shops per day are closing, that would allow for a minimum of 10,950 new homes to be created, a minimum because many shops are large enough to create more than one residential property. Warehouse shops could be converted into several dozen town houses or even more apartments.
The conversion process would mean developers and investors would be required, bringing money into the economy through the use of tradesmen and materials, mortgages could be taken on properties, allowing first time buyers to get on the ladder, further investors would then buy and rent properties, all helping to stimulate the economy by bringing property back into use and helping house people affordably.
Should you require a cash offer for you house, or be facing repossession please feel free to contact us.