Over the last few decades the popularity of the traditional British town centre has decreased with large shopping centres, such as Meadowhall Shopping Centre and retail outlet parks taking their place.
The government revealed earlier this year that only 49 per cent of people are proud of their local town centre and a quarter of people used to be proud, but no longer are. The main factor contributing to the change of heart was the condition in which commercial properties around the town centres were in. Other factors included: poor choice of shops, high prices and the cost of parking. However with more and more vacant shops around the town centre, the state of commercial properties are only going to get worse.
One in five shoppers have already turned their backs on their town centre, choosing to shop in shopping centres instead. Shopping centres offer a completely different concept to shopping as you don’t have to worry about the weather, parking costs or where to eat as everything is all under one roof.
Yet still 20 per cent of people would like to see independent stores taking up commercial property in town centres, such as: florists, bakers, butchers and greengrocers. However as well as independent stores, 25 per cent of people would also like big name department stores such as Debenhams or John Lewis in their town centres. But can two run side by side or will the small corner shop slowly disappear forever?
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com stated, “Britain’s High Streets should be the lifeblood of the local community – instead they are dying on their feet. High rents, rates and the recession have forced many retailers off the High Street altogether, while preventing new independents or start-ups from taking their place.” She also went on to say that consumers “want to see it thrive and they would like to be able to spend their money there.” But what is the future for the town centre going to be like? We will have to watch this space.
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