The tide may be turning on British retail this week, as the ‘Save Our Shops’ campaign has laid out concrete plans for strengthening small-scale British business.
The campaign follows the lessening influence of British retail and a concordant loss of jobs, with Retail Gazette asserting that, “Over 140,000 jobs” were lost over 2019. Activists around the country have previously focused on grassroots efforts to raise awareness of the issue, but this week’s events mark a change in strategy from high-street activism to governmental reform.
Speaking about his Change.org manifesto for change, Save Our Shops spokesman Stephen Linden-Wyatt said, “For the past decade the government has been busy with austerity measures, followed by the Brexit saga and now the Coronavirus epidemic. With all this happening, they have taken their eye off the problems that are killing our shops up and down the length of Great Britain.
“It’s estimated that over 100,000 jobs were lost in the retail sector last year and this year isn’t looking any better. The government needs to tackle the business rate shambles and reduce retail business rates by up to 90% for most retail shops. It also needs to introduce new laws to empower local councils to compulsory purchase all in-town parking and allow free 4 hour car parking for shoppers.”
Linden-Wyatt has also called for tighter monitoring and regulation of home delivery, drawing attention to the high rate of drivers on controversial zero-rate contracts and the encroaching influence of what has been termed the ‘gig economy’ of transient, often unstable work.
While the Save Our Shops Change.org petition is gathering steam, the organisation hasn’t given up on activism directed at shoppers, using its website www.saveourshops.uk to offer practical advice and distribute forms that members can use to collect signatures from workmates, friends and family.
Whatever the future of British retail, it’s certain to be shaped by the success or failure of Save Our Shops’ new manifesto, and it’s expected that this issue will only gain prominence as the campaign uses its concrete suggestions to gather steam in public discourse.