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Traditional high street ‘is over’

emptyshop'It is just too late. There might be nostalgia for the high street, but it is too late now. It is over,' says Blockbuster and former Land of Leather administrator.

Lee Manning, partner at Deloitte and president of R3, the Association of Business Recovery Professionals says the Internet, out-of-town shopping and local councils have left high streets with no future.

'Technology and the internet have challenged the high street beyond what most shops have been able to cope with,' he told The Telegraph. 'And secondly, the significant expansion of out of town, top-notch shopping centres has made it almost impossible to compete for local high streets.'

Manning also blames councils for 'vulture-like' parking ticket policies that deter shoppers and push them out of town.

'30 years ago high streets had butchers' shops, greengrocers, off-licences and retailers. But there aren't many left. Retailers with enough financial clout have now moved out – and more will go this year and next. That means the anchor stores are deserting the high street. Therefore shoppers have less luring them to the high street. And that leaves those shops that remain in an even harder predicament.

'We are turning into America. All across the US there are no high streets. But you can still get anything you want. Instead of a parking fine, you have a day out at the mall thanks to the cinemas and restaurants.'

Manning, who has also been administrator for Oddbins, MK One, Bay Trading and Kookai, also says retailers have been slow to adapt. 'Management teams like sticking to what they know, to something that was once a successful formula. But that is over. You constantly have to be on the move, constantly nimble, constantly ahead of rivals. You have to be alive to what the customer wants.'

And this means combining a physical and online presence. 'Online does not have to be completely divorced from bricks and mortar. I think shops and online can work really well together. John Lewis is very good at using technology to get people in to shop. That way, bricks and mortar shops still make sense,' he says.