Do high streets still need shops?

In recent years, traditional high street retailers have faced many problems, amid concerns that the decline of high streets could deprive smaller towns of a focus for the community.  One trend has been the rise of more innovative and quirky retailers, restaurants and coffee shops filling the empty spaces on the high street.  But should our high streets be based mainly on shopping?  Should there be a greater emphasis on leisure and other services – places to meet and enjoy activities together?  Should we simply let the market decide? Should government intervene to shape our high streets and how do the rest of us get a say – through the ballot box, a campaign group or our wallets?

Filmed at the Battle of Ideas, the speakers are Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation, British Retail Consortium; George MacDonald, executive editor, Retail Week; Eva Pascoe, co-founder of the world’s first internet café, Cyberia, and co-author of An Alternative Future High-Street; Susan Steed, economist and co-founder of the Brixton Pound.  The chair is Para Mullan, senior project manager, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, FCIDP.

Battle of Ideas session details