TV presenter and retail expert Mary Portas is to lead a government review into the future of the high-street.
Portas, who recently spoke at the Advantage Conference in Madrid and is better known as Mary Queen of Shops, will visit a number of town centres across England as part of the review, announced today by the prime minister and deputy prime minister.
Speaking at the Advantage conference on how to run more successful high-street travel agencies, Portas was temporarily floored by Traveltime World boss Jackie Steadman when asked how agents could prevent customers using them for holiday information and quotes and then booking on the internet. Portas later suggested agents should charge clients a fee or work with well-known brands such as luggage companies to add value.
The number of high-street travel agencies has declined by 24% since 2005, according to figures from BP Travel Marketing Services, from 8,000 to 6,000.
Portas said: "With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker. I am calling on businesses, local authorities and shoppers to contribute their ideas on how we can halt this decline in its tracks and create town centres that we can all be proud of. "
The review aims to identify what the government, local authorities and businesses can do to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets. It will address key areas such as the problem of vacant shops, new business models for the high-street to suit today's shoppers, how to prevent the proliferation of 'clone towns' and increase the number of small and independent retailers.
The findings will be presented in the autumn.
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