Home, Clone or Ghost Town
Posted by: FSPRetail , 23 July 2009
The BRC this week issued their report, 21st Century High Streets: A Vision for our Town Centres, which, in its introduction states “Good retailing is all about great products supported by great people giving great service. It’s down to retailers to provide all of that for their customers. It’s something British retailers, large and small, excel in. But to trade profitably we need customers, drawn in by a pleasant, safe and accessible High Street offer”. Sensible. Indeed the whole report is essentially common sense, but someone needs to drive the message home.
It’s something FSP has been banging on about for some time. Regular readers of Geoff’s View in SnapShop Monthly (repeated as a news item here), will know that FSP would like to see town centres having their own identity, based around the needs and expectations of their catchment population. Indeed, a year ago, Geoff said “the prospect for town centre retailing is not for a difficult period, but for a sea-change. There will be a permanent diminution of its market share unless the offering in town centres is made more attractive to shoppers”. Indeed, we want towns to feel like home, not a clone of every other one up and down the country. We expect the government to do their bit, as Geoff argues in A Paradigm Shift for Town Centre Retailing, and we agree with the BRC in assigning responsibilities to Local Authorities, Regional Development Agencies and the Retailers themselves, but what about the property owners, whether institutional, private or local authority? The relationship between the in-town Shopping Centre and the High Street is inevitably competiitve but the competition can either be healthy and constuctive or destructive when the legitimacy of the other’s role is denied.
Curiously the BRC’s 20 key recommendations fail to mention landlords, except in connection with “The retail mix must complement the public perception of the High Street’s identity”. This is indeed a challenge for landlords whose chief concern is their bottom line. Too often the time horizon is short term and a global overview of the state of the local town centre is not something that is often considered relevant. For the long term health of their investment, it should be a consideration as should be their involvement in the other 19 key recommendations.
Tags: FUTURE OF RETAILING