"These findings demonstrate London’shigh streets continue to face challenging times but the Mayor is determined tohelp these important areas improve and adapt.
The Mayor has overseen investment of around £250 million which is set to support 90 town centres and high streets across the capital. Using this money, we are encouraging retailers and communities to work together to develop long-term strategies to breathe new life into London’s retail hubs."
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The Outer London Fund (OLF), launched by the Mayor in 2011, is a three-year initiative dedicated to strengthening the vibrancy and growth of London’s high streets and town centres.
At the centre of the initiative is funding of up to £50 million, supported by the offer of advice that can be targeted at improving the character, quality and economic vitality of selected high streets and town centres.
Outer London Fund support has been allocated in two rounds; the first, announced in June 2011, provided support to 30 places across 20 boroughs with access to nearly £10 million of funds. The second round, announced in January 2012, is making £32 million available to 23 places in 18 boroughs.
All of the projects and places are further supported by the offer of specialist assistance, including access to a pre-procured team with specialisms in economic development, place shaping and public realm projects, special event planning, community engagement and marketing, to name a few.
Additionally, the Greater London Authority also provides support with project scoping, design and delivery.
Sally Williams from Retail Revival, who works with town centres in London to regenerate their high streets, says London is bucking the trend because of its diverse communities:
"Many of London's high streets are quite villagey, niche and ever evolving. There are more independent stores in London and shop owners are tailoring their trade to the culturally diverse community.
People use the high street on a daily basis, as a social activity and many of the shops are open very early to very late and provide essential service centres for residents.
Lots of shops in London recognise how steep the competition is and are very good at tailoring their product to the customer. It's essential shop owners know their customers if they're going to survive."
The study, carried out by the Centre for Retail Research warns that 62,000 shops will fold in the next five years with more than a third (41%) of town centres seeing 27,638 store closures.
However London will see the fewest closures, with 9% of shops folding while the South East generally is expected to see a 13% decrease in the number of shops The worst off areas will be Wales (29%) and the North West (28%).