Town Centre Shops – the future

We can all see the way in which retailers are currently headed. It is reckoned that there are over a dozen High Street names who are ‘at risk’ of failure. Their December Quarters rents are shortly due – unless that have made arrangements to shift payments to monthly frequencies.

This week Mary Portas is expected to publish a report tomorrow on the state of retailing – and her plan to get it to recover from the doldrums.

It is understood the report covers the issues about out-of-town shopping centres vs. In-town. You don’t have to be a planning expert to what these out of town centres have done to our Cities. They offer huge choice, easy access and generally free parking. That you can drive your car to shop door is seen as a high advantage. When they started this was all about ‘big box’ goods – but not so any more.

Of course the Supermarkets have followed suit; the latest stores are the size of most neighbourhoods. They too rely on you parking next to the store.

It is suggested that Mary Portas will address this issue – and either suggest a levelling of the playing fields – in suggesting out of town charge for parking (which sounds unlikely!) or – Cities should stop looking at parking as a revenue stream. This too looks to be challenging – especially in an era of financial austerity. But there is a point here. In the last week or so I have spent a large sum in Nottingham’s car parks. The minimum charge in the centre is now £3.50 I followed a lady who was tutting about her £11.00 charge!

We have to find ways of making our centre’s attractive = the alternative is they will decline very quickly. My view is that it is a slippery slope – and we are atop it at the moment.

I have little hope in Nottingham though – if you go to a meeting at the City Council now – you get charged £4.00 to park at Loxley House.

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