I read in yesterdays Daily Mail. Chancellor (Philip Hammond) is considering handing 235,000 small organisations a £1.4 billion tax cut as the government scramble to try to save your high street…
The Mail went on to say. The Chancellor is thinking about raising the rental threshold when businesses start paying business rates in next week’s Budget. Currently, organisations start paying business rates when the rental value of their property hits £12,000. And treasury insiders are looking at raising this small business rate relief threshold to £20,000. Giving another 235,000 small organisations a life line in a last ditch effort to save our high streets.
Although this will be a very welcome cash relief for many small organisations (ourselves included). I just can’t get past the fact that it is much too little much too late.
For me personally. I believe the damage was done 10 years or more ago. When the government gave planning permission for super super markets (selling everything) to open in or very close to our town centres.
And the obvious thing happened overnight (because they’re on the doorstep & sold everything 24 hours a day). People went when it was convenient for them & did a big weekly shop for everything. Completely by-passing their small town centre stores.
Yes they created jobs. But the jobs would still be created if they built them a few miles out of town on shopping parks. Making them slightly less convenient to many people. Who could then choose to shop on the high street & give the small organisations in the town centre an opportunity to thrive.
Let’s take Rawtenstall (our main local town in Rossendale) as an example. Rawtenstall is only a small town & the situation is completely daft. There are 6 major supermarkets in a 1 mile radius. 2 Tesco’s, 1 Asda, 1 LIDL, 1 ALDI & a big Marks & Spencers food outlet.
Even the smaller towns in Rossendale have been high-jacked by the supermarkets. Haslingden has a Tesco & even Bacup has a Morrisons. So why do the government find it a surprise the only places thriving on the high street are cafe’s, hair & beauty outlets, takeaways, restaurants & more recently micro brewing bars. Leaving many units empty.
And it’s not just Rossendale with this problem. It’s pandemic. How do I know? Well, for the last 2 months I’ve spent my evenings delivering leaflets to small organisations across Lancashire & Greater Manchester. We are trying to help small organisations gain certainty of their total printing cost, through our affordable small organisation managed print service. Which saves small organisations money and provides peace of mind.
Up to now. Shadow (our springer) & I have pounded the high streets of Haslingden, Rawtenstall, Bacup, Accrington, Oswaldtwistle, Blackburn, Great Harwood, Padiham, Burnley, Clitheroe, Bury, Bolton, Rochdale, Heywood, Radcliffe, Whitefield & Prestwich. And all of them are showing the same traits. Some more than others.
And (for those that are left) the Chancellor wants shops on the high street to adopt new shopping habits. Online no doubt being one of them. But if the government is not careful the horse will have bolted on this one too.
I wrote a recent article about why I’m not buying from Amazon ever again. The article details how Amazon has released over 100 own brand products in 2 years. And asks if they could be using their market-place re-sellers as guinea pigs before manufacturing & selling their products themselves.
And an earlier Daily Mirror report surprisingly showed, even the Chancellor is giving Amazon £30 million to mentor small organisations. And my belief is that Amazon could quite easily use this mentoring to gleam the knowledge from small organisations and go manufacture & sell their products themselves.
My view is. If we’re not careful the same thing happening to our high streets will happen in the digital world. I can foresee many independent digital re-sellers going to the wall in the near future too.
Lord Sugar even agreed with me in a Daily Mirror interview with the headline ‘Amazon is killing our businesses’.
In the Mirror interview Lord Sugar says “I don’t think there is a way we can revitalise the high street. It’s a difficult task. The companies that are getting bigger & bigger like Amazon are online. Amazon for example, worldwide is killing every single business. Every single business”
But for me. Lord Sugar has missed something…
If we all stopped buying everything from Amazon & the super super markets (even if it cost a little more) and spread our purchases across a number of small organisations (online & high street). Just maybe our high streets might bounce back. And it will stop Amazon from decimating the world’s online independent retailers too.
I’m willing to do it. That’s why I’m never buying off Amazon again & we’ve changed our local shopping habits too. But it’s going to take more than just me. Are you willing to save our high streets by doing it too?