Our traditional High Streets are in state of flux, more evidence is coming out that suggests that Britain’s changing shopping habits is having a fundamental shift in the make up of retail.
A recent report commissioned by the Confederation of Passenger Transport warns that there are a number of potential threats to the High Street materialising. it is a useful pointer.
The Report commissioned by the Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland (CPT), used data from some of the largest transport groups. It found rising levels of car ownership and usage had wiped out 15 million bus journeys during the past four years. Auditors KPMG said an increase in car ownership cut bus journeys by 12 million over four years, while different shopping habits, including an increase in online services and home delivery options, contributed to a decrease of 7.3 million trips.
Reduced bus service routes and increased bus journey times arising from congestion accounted for a fall in 5.9 million trips and increases in bus fares putting people off four million trips.
Changes to economic and workplace structures, such as flexible working, a mix of full and part-time work and changes to the number of people in self-employment and zero-hour contracts. This, alongside competition from rail, trams, taxi companies — such as Uber — and cycling, explained a reduction of 8.7 million trips.
So whilst Scotland is not England.
The information must be seen against the local conditions that prevail. Here in Wednesfield Wolverhampton and the West Midlands we have decent bus services currently.
But the changing face of retail will create situations where local bus routes will be under intense pressure, as bus companies themselves face pressure on their own budgets and bottom lines.
Retail is facing its biggest ever changes, as more and more people turn towards the internet for shopping. Forcing shops to close and altering the retail mix of High streets, reducing traditional market stalls etc.
Currently the City Council here in Wolverhampton is undertaking a scrutiny review of the Local Economic Development of Bilston and Wednesfield. Its well worth noting that our economy is not itself unique enough to withstand the sort of structural change that this CPT Scottish report tells of. We must be ready to support and help our local economies when and where we can.