I trust that her remit is not just about revitalising a few quaint shops in an affluent commuter town, as her TV image suggests, but about the rebirth of the high street.
Its demise, while not helped by the economic climate and growth of online shopping, is simply at the mercy of the aggressive expansion of the multiples. While the consumer would welcome the return of stores such as butchers, bakers and greengrocers, it is hard to envisage it happening if they cannot be competitive not only against the multiples, but indeed the independent convenience retailer.
The growth of the multiples has been relentless, but thankfully there are signs the tide is turning. The recent fuel price increases are stopping people from driving to the out-of-town stores, and as a result local shops are benefiting.
And a recent Which? report showed that customers are becoming weary of the supermarkets, with Tesco managing a lowly 82nd from a list of 100 outlets surveyed for customer satisfaction.
The report also described the multiples as ‘jacks of all trades, but masters of none’, a clear indication that attempts to provide a one-stop shop aren’t quite working. Finally, the recent protests at the opening of a Tesco in Bristol is possibly another indication that the great British public are finally ready for a change.
All this leads me to think that now is the perfect time for Mary Portas to cast her eye on our high streets. Hopefully, they’ll look very different in a few years time.