TOWN and city centres should contain a mix of office and residential buildings as well as shops in an effort to battle against the decline of the traditional high street, Carwyn Jones has said.

The first minister was speaking in the Assembly after a number of large shopping chains announced a series of branch closures following the continued swing in favour of online shopping.

Among them is House of Fraser, which recently announced it would close its large department stores in Cwmbran and Cardiff, and Mothercare, which will close its Friars Walk branch.

Speaking during First Minister's Questions yesterday, Tuesday, Mr Jones said: "I'm not going to pretend that the challenges facing retail are easy, because they're not.

"There are many people who shop online. There are many people who go into a shop and then shop online, not shopping in the shop itself. And there are some challenges there.

"Where does the answer lie? I suspect it's ensuring that our town centres are more mixed, making sure that more people live in town centres, and also ensuring that there are more offices."

He added creating more office space in town centres would drive traffic into shops during the day.

Mr Jones was responding to leader of the Assembly's Ukip group Caroline Jones, who called for action to protect high streets.

"The managing director of Newport's Wildings department store, which recently had to downsize, said the future was not good for traditional stores, due to the rising costs and growth of online sales," she said.

"So, first minister, do you think it's time we took radical action, such as massively cutting business rates, in order to save Wales's remaining retail icons?"

But, saying "It will take more than that", Mr Jones said he believed more needed to be done to ensure online retailers pay a fair share of tax.

"The reality is that if you are a shop, you are paying business rates. You might be competing with somebody who's paying next to nothing, because they're online. There are issues there which only the UK Government can resolve."

He added town centre shops should consider opening in the evening when many shoppers have finished work.