High street obituaries premature – experts
Retail experts have said there are opportunities for the region's town and city centres to succeed despite recent high-profile failures.
Speakers at an event looking at the economic role of market towns explained there are measures that can keep High Streets busy.
Members of councils and business groups across the East Midlands heard that success could be possible even in a climate that has seen HMV and Blockbuster enter administration.
Matt Corrigan, chief executive of Lincoln Business Improvement Group (BIG), was one of the speakers at the event in Retford, Nottinghamshire, on Thursday, January 24.
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He explained how his team had brought in measures to keep shoppers coming to the city centre.
He said: "Because of the increase in people using the internet to buy products, in the last ten years we have seen a fundamental switch in the reasons shoppers come to the high street.
"People no longer need to come go there, it's a place they choose to go – it's not a requirement.
"But it really is about people making that choice and how we can draw people to the town centre.
"There are challenges, but it means there are opportunities.
"Everywhere is different. Everywhere has a culture and tradition and something different to offer.
"There are people that want to work together to make it work well.
"I think there is a great future for the high street.
"If we capitalise on our assets we can bring vibrancy into our town centres."
Mr Corrigan explained Lincoln BIG's £1.2 million annual budget was helping to keep the city's town centre popular with shoppers.
This including holding around 300 events each year, such as the urban beach and ice rink, and working with businesses and local authorities.
Liz Price, senior research fellow at the University of Lincoln, was another speaker to address the role of market towns in Lincolnshire and the rest of the East Midlands.
The academic discussed the findings of an in-depth study that mapped the economic function of different towns in the region.
Six classifications were created, categorising towns based on factors such as how many firms there were in each location, compared with population.
All those looked at had populations of 75,000 people or fewer. Ms Price said organisations working to improve town centres could use such comparisons to find measures that worked in similar locations.
She said: "Towns cannot be treated as a homogenous group.
"Some are more industrial, some are struggling and some are vibrant.
"We really need to understand the economic make-up of each town, and I don't think that is something that has been done much."
The research found some towns had large populations with few firms, as well as good connections to cities and the capital, and were used as commuter locations.
Others were shown to have smaller populations with a high number of firms, suggesting they were retail centres for people in surrounding areas.
The event was one of a series held by the Rural Services Network across the country.
Guests came from counties include Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Cumbria and Yorkshire.