High Street Rents

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The focus of this month’s edition is high street rents, both the actual effects of current levels and the thoughts which have lead to, and others which could lead out of, the current situation. In the UK, 2012 saw record levels of chain store closures, on average 20 shops a day1, with no sign of a reprieve on the horizon.

An immediate reaction is to look to landlords availing themselves of the high rental costs driven up by rising property values. However, one could question not only the selective aspect of this criticism, but also the perceived economic link between rental costs and property prices.

It can often appear that one economic event leads into another, increasing demand outstrips supply and prices rise accordingly. But if one can hold the picture in one’s imagination then perhaps the perception can arise, not of a mechanical shifting of demand curves cross cutting those of supply, but of the shopkeeper wiping the chalk board and inserting a new price as the crowd is seen approaching.

Far from an onrushing flow of financial transactions, each individual exchange offers an opportunity to stop, think and consider not only one’s own situation but that of the other party and also of the economy as a whole. Rather than a continuous chain of events each link is a potential break where one can, if one wills, enact a new course of events based on an intuition of the future rather than driven by the circumstances of the past.

In the lead article, Reserving Judgement, Stephen Torr takes a second look at a much maligned accounting technique and wonders if a subtle adjustment could lead one down a different path, albeit potentially leading closer to home.

Sign of Our Time presents an article by John Harris entitled Campaign to protect Urban England. Here the current situation is explored along with a description of local efforts to reverse the trend of failing local high street shops and expanding generic out of town retail parks. The results of such actions are yet to be seen.

In contrast, the Feature, Tailored Rents by Christopher Houghton Budd, charts the progress of two initiatives which have attempted to shift the locus of rental decisions from might (who can pay the highest price) to light (who can create the greatest value from the exclusive use of the property assets). As such, they stand as examples of how the situation is not only of our making but that the solution is also within the grasp of current economic actors.

In the Archive piece, False Land Values, Rudolf Steiner, speaking in 1922, sets out the potential consequences of excess capital pouring into land values. A scenario which subsequent history, as outlined in the articles above, has served to evidence his point.

On the AE-Exchange page Kim Chotzen poses a questions raised from the previous month’s edition of Associate! on taxation. This is followed by two comments on accounting, the first by D’Arcy Mackenzie who explores how it can be a benefit when coming to an understanding economics, whilst the  second by K J Jakobson focuses on gift money.

To complete this edition Victor’s View looks at Property Rights and how one’s conception of  these can colour one’s actions. Again the call is made to one’s own conceptions and resultant actions rather than the bemoaning of faceless corporate landlords.

(1) High Street chain store closures soar, says research, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business chain store closures -21611772

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