Town centre trade is ‘holding its own’

Mansfield shoppers
Mansfield shoppers

Mansfield’s town centre is continuing to ‘hold its own’, according to local business leaders, as a new survey shows the nation’s high streets are fighting back.

New research from business advisory firm Deloitte released today shows high street recovery is outperforming retail parks and shopping centres across the UK.

And the resilience of town centres is echoed in Mansfield, where 0ver 30 new businesses started in the town through the 2013/14 period.

Manager of Mansfield BID Sarah Nelson said: “Mansfield Town Centre is similar to all towns who have faced challenges through the economic climate.

“However we have continued to hold our own, retaining our improved retail ranking of 112 through 2013, with town centre expenditure staying at over £300 million (Experian Town Centre Shopper Report)

“Mansfield Town celebrates the fact that we have a traditional market offer for visitors sitting alongside a mix of national and independent retailers with a range of restaurant, bars and service sector.

“We know there are still challenges ahead, but we are continuing to strive for better things such as offering Free Wi-Fi to visitors and the recent purple flag award application for ‘offer and safety in the evening economy’ has seen us shortlisted to the assessment stage which will be a great achievement.

“We also have many exciting events coming up in the town that will assist in keeping the town centre the visitors destination of choice.”

Using Local Data Company (LDC) data on nearly 5,900 shops, Deloitte’s analysis shows that the UK high street is far outperforming retail parks and shopping centres, which have respective vacancy rates of 37% and 29% for space formerly occupied by these retailers.

Convenience stores have also expanded strongly, accounting for nearly 12% of space acquired post-administration. This pattern suggests a change in shopping habits inspired by the recession and mobile commerce, as the major supermarkets move the battleground in their “race for space” to the high street.

Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, said: “Historically, retailers have talked about “destination” shopping locations. However, different and more cautious consumer spending patterns have joined forces with a technology-powered convenience culture which demands that goods and services are available as and where the consumer demands.

“Rather than taking shoppers away, the internet is pushing people back to shops with the growth of “click and collect”. The evidence suggests that we may be entering a new era of “en route” shopping, powered by mobile shopping and the demand for collection points strategically located at a point between where the consumer is travelling from and to.”

Hugo Clark, director at Deloitte and author of the report, concluded: “The results of this research are surprising and seem to challenge a number of myths around the state of the high street. They would suggest that far from being dead, the high street appears to be showing great resilience and a capacity for reinvention. It seems that a structural shift is taking place with the high street emerging as an unexpected winner.”

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