Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Things that shouldn't surprise us...


From Planning Magazine:

More than one in ten town centre shops were vacant in May, according to a survey published by membership body the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

OK there's a recession on and that has accelerated the problem but the real issues are:

Sales through town centres grew by just 0.2% in 2010, underperforming out-of-town and non-store retail, which both achieved significant uplifts.

While out-of-town increased by 1.6%, non-store sales achieved exceptional growth, up by 10.4%. Town centre is less convenient and more exposed to discretionary sectors.

You see that? Town centres as locations for comparison retail - other than a limited number of regional centres - are finished. And as Datamonitor point out in their 2011 review of town centre retail (from which the above statisitcs come):

The role of the town centre is set to change, moving away from a predominantly retail channel to a more leisure-based centre. Coffee houses and restaurants are taking up a greater proportion of space in the town centre as they have the resources to continue growing.

And the answer doesn't lie in aggressive and restricting planning rules - try applying them to on-line and mail order retailing! Watch as the planners drive all those warehousing and distribution jobs to somewhere else in the world - somewhere with planners that believe in promoting development and creating jobs.

Yet that's what  the Labour Party want us to do! And the RTPI - the planners union - they don't even mention "non-store sales" in their programme for a conference on town centres and retail and barely mention leisure and pleasure either!


1 comment:

nisakiman said...

What you omitted to mention was the draconian and, in the majority of cases, pointless parking restrictions in town centres. Of course people won't shop there if they've got to oik all they've bought half a mile or more to the nearest (extortionate) car park.

I remember when I was first driving (late 60s) you could find somewhere to park in most town centres. Yes, it was sometimes a bit chaotic, but it acted as a natural traffic calming measure. But then the double-yellow-line-brigade got going, and ..........presto!!!! No more town centre trade!

They're good, aren't they!