There is no doubt that the retail sector is hitting the headlines at the moment and, generally, for the wrong reasons. Big name stores and recognised brands have been casualties of a changing retail market place during 2018 and Christmas sales at some of the UKs largest retailers did not meet expectations. There are three main categories to retail in the UK, primarily being high street, out of town and online. All three of these categories are competing for the same consumer spending and seemingly it is the high street that is feeling the pinch the most. This squeeze on retail spending is likely to impact on the UKs high street in a way that will change the look and feel of many of the UKs town centres over the course of the coming years. However, it is not all bad news and many retail businesses are thriving and it is the Parkinson teams opinion that town centres simply need to adapt, remodel and embrace the changes being experienced in the way consumers shop and spend their free time and spare cash.
Over the past 30 years many high streets have lost their individual identities with one high street looking very much like any other at ground floor level. The same brands occupy prime positions in every town centre and there is little individualism separating the retail high street offer in the likes of Bury, Warrington, Bolton, St Helens and Preston. To attract the public back to town centres, in numbers, town centres will need to reinvent themselves and offer consumers something different to the next town centre. The regions cities and out of town shopping centres and complexes drag consumer spending from all of these towns catchment areas as these city centres and shopping centres have much more to offer than our town centres in terms of leisure, retail, ease of access and car parking etc.
The challenge now, for town centres, is to try and embrace this change and meet aspirations of consumers who wish to shop, relax, eat, drink and complete other activities in one location and on one outing. Unfortunately, many of the regions town centres do not provide quality offerings in these areas hence why consumers are heading to the cities and retail complexes.
In conclusion, therefore, the retail sector is going through a change with more and more retail consumers purchasing online, driving the need for logistics and warehousing facilities to meet this demand, out of town retail parks and shopping centres are feeling the pinch but are seen as destinations for specific goods and services and town centres need to reinvent themselves and become more individual to become destinations that people want to visit.