Thursday, 13 February 2014

Comparisons of UK High Street to that of Italy

On a recent visit to Italy, I decided to look at the similarities and differences between the High Streets in Italy and those in the UK.  The High Streets I encountered in Italy were generally more vibrant, with a higher occupancy rate than those I have encountered recently in the UK.

There is more of a focus on the trades in Italy and no High Street is complete without a butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger, cobbler or baker.

Some or all of these have been rolled into one supermarket in many UK High Streets.

This isn't to say that supermarkets are necessarily a bad thing in a High Street shopping area, but that a competitor that provides some expert knowledge and a high level of customer service would be beneficial.

We have seen more of a café culture like our European cousins over recent years, but the difference is marked.  UK High Streets have mimicked the US with large chains tending to dominate, whereas in Europe the trend is for local, independent cafés.

Planning offices need to prioritise the types of business they want to occupy their town centres. When economic times are tough, it is easy to accept whatever business that comes along.

Perhaps a forward-thinking council would get together with local landlords and advertisers to request certain tenants or sectors that they would like to enhance their town centre. That would be a proactive move.

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