Turn empty shops into houses; not new stores, says retail expert

Despite efforts to revive local high streets, consumers don’t want to shop there and empty stores should be turned into houses, a retail expert has claimed.

Writing for This Is Money, Bill Grimsey, former chief executive at Wickes, Iceland and Focus DIY, said initiatives to encourage people back to their local shopping areas, like that organised by Mary Portas, are “a waste of money and resources”. Consumers, he said, are voting with their feet and prefer to visit large out-of-town shopping centres.

“The challenges that face our town centres will go on well into the future and these towns need to find other community-based solutions to make use of these assets and regenerate the area,” he added.

“They cannot be saved as a destination for retailing alone. Much needed affordable housing, turning our high streets into domestic living centres would be a good place to start.”

As you wander around high streets throughout the UK, you’ll probably notice that a lot of shops are converted houses from a by-gone era, so this advice makes some sense. It’s actually turning empty shops back into houses!