Open for business: Britain’s strongest city centres suggest the “High Street” is not dead

New report calls for more support for councils to shift city centre economies away from an overreliance on retail

  • Successful high streets are an outcome, not drivers, of successful city centre economies
  • Policy must focus on making city centres more attractive places to do business, not just shop
  • Need to attract “knowledge-based” businesses with a skilled workforce and flexible office-retail spaces
Centre for Cities, in partnership with George Capital, has mapped the cities with the strongest city centre economies in the UK, and identified their common features.
The report City Centres: Past, Present and Future found that focusing on the struggles of certain high streets ignores the success of well performing city centres and misdiagnoses the core problem: insufficient footfall in city centres due to a lack of jobs.
Successful city centres feature fewer shops, but are supported by ‘knowledge-based’ office jobs – such as those in marketing, finance and law. As online retailers draw customers away from traditional shops, well-paying jobs in knowledge-based industries create a consumer market for high street restaurants, bars and other leisure activities to thrive.

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