Editor: There is no doubt that the British high street is facing a crisis, having been impacted by consumer preferences for online shopping and lockdown.
The reality is, the industry cannot sustain more store closures and unpaid rent. However, neither can it stand idly by and wait for the axe to fall.
Now is the time to innovate. Property owners need not see their space as a one-dimensional asset made simply for retail, they can instead make use of empty space to offer alternative services.
Following in the footsteps of Westfield, Selfridges and John Lewis, retail property owners can adopt flexible workspace solutions to generate income.
Flexible workspace offers a solution that can ‘close the gap’ for retail landlords. While traditional office models have struggled during lockdown, the benefits of flexible workspace have been recognised by tenants across the CRE industry.
The flexibility of contracts is attractive to smaller business owners and large corporations alike, as it offers them the ability to ‘flex’ their assets as and when they need them.
By introducing this model to the high street, the industry can encourage footfall and establish working hubs that invigorate local economies.
For instance, with the greater need for flexible workspace, demand for hospitality and customer service jobs in communities will in turn also rise. Meanwhile, working hubs encourage footfall back to cafés, restaurants, shops and local amenities, supporting long-term local economic regeneration.
Adopting these solutions offers a means for retailers to ‘close the gap’, increase rental revenue and invigorate the high street. However, this must be matched by investment in technology, where robust connectivity will support and future-proof a new approach.
Richard Morris is director at technologywithin