On Thursday Mothercare announced plans to axe 50 stores, while Carluccio’s said that it plans to close a third of its 103 UK-based restaurants and delicatessens.
Both plan to use a “company voluntary arrangement” or CVA to close unprofitable sites and secure rent reductions at others.
All the firms that have or are about to use CVAs are struggling to cope with business rates and high rents.
Business rates are strangling companies, especially the small and medium ones, and unless the Government scraps it, more will close sites or even go under.
Scrapping business rates would hit the public purse initially, but the hit will be smaller than the long-term consequences of site closures and corporate failures.
Landlords do not want to cut rents, but it is in their interest to do so. Having occupied premises is better than having an empty building that is not generating any revenue for you.
Axing business rates and rent reductions will help, but for the High Street to survive, it needs to adapt and give people a reason to actually go there.
That means better facilities, free parking, activities and shops, restaurants and pubs to meet local tastes. Those that do so will thrive but identikit High Streets that lack character will struggle to survive.