by Giulia Candussi
Footfall in UK high streets was down by 4.2 percent between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018, according to research by Ipsos. This equals to a drop of three million high street customers.
Also, 1 in 12 shops closed in the past five years, according to further analysis by the Guardian. Clothing retailers have seen the biggest decline since 2013, with more than 750 shops lost. On the other hand, a thousand extra hair and beauty salons have opened. Convenience stores and supermarkets have also grown in almost all town centres. These examples represent a growing shift in how people are using their local town centres.
More closures are expected in the near future as the retail market tries to adapt to the new spending desires and necessities of the population. The growth of leisure centres is a good indicator of people wanting more spaces to socialize rather than to buy things.
Ayr high street is not very different from many other high streets in the UK, where the number of shut windows is almost impossible to count, but there is hope. Bread Arts Lab is a public space that aims at regenerating the high street, bringing communities together and making art accessible to everyone.
It’s about regeneration, helping the community and taking art to a wider audience.
“My mission for Bread arts lab to get people involved who are not already part of the art world, because we believe it improves your quality of life. Being able to have a space like this on your doorstep, where you don’t have to travel and you are not expected to pay any money to have an enjoyable experience” says the creative director Blake Venus.
Ayr residents are responding positively to this initiative, saying that “It’s nice to see a vacant shop being used in a positive way” and “it’s good for the communities to have a space to come together without having to spend any money”.
This might be the response to the high street crisis that local residents were waiting for.