6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Business & Professional Life today CLICK HERE

Retail – the end of an era?

PUBLISHED: 14:49 05 April 2013 | UPDATED: 21:25 05 April 2013

Retail – the end of an era?

Retail – the end of an era?

Having acted for large retailers including SuperGroup and Soho Coffee, Antonia Shield, the retail legal guru from BPE, gives her view on why retail could have seen the end of an era

Retail the end of an era?

Having acted for large retailers including SuperGroup and Soho Coffee, Antonia Shield, the retail legal guru from BPE, gives her view on why retail could have seen the end of an era

The advent of the internet has heralded a new retail age and its fair to say that the retail experts (who I regularly peruse in the weekly pages dedicated to that sector) have spent a few years procrastinating as to how the future will evolve. I think there is clarity emerging now and whilst this clearer trend has been accelerated by the state of the economy it is certainly going to be at the expense of our high streets until we manage to achieve their reinvention Portas inspired or otherwise. Interestingly I understand she is shortly looking at Stroud.

There is no doubt that the large regional destination shopping cities and centres will continue to hold their own. Retailers in these locations recognise the importance of maintaining their presence, investing in their shop window and increasingly putting on a good show to attract new customers both physically and online. The concept of multi-channel selling is here to stay which embraces your conventional shop purchase; your online purchase delivered; your online purchase available for click and collect; your online reservation while you are shopping from your mobile device. Shops are not just where a customer goes to look and buy, but increasingly they need to be a showcase for brand awareness, brand development, availability online and a pick up point for internet orders or online store reservations. Retailers who arent embracing this new flexibility will struggle because all the stats show that the consumer loves it.

So what is the effect on bricks and mortar? In the face of the internet it looks like footfall across our smaller centres nationally will continue to decline and this means that many household names will need to shrink their property portfolio to survive, which in itself will be a challenge for some. We have already seen the catastrophic consequences of a high rent and over-exposure to the economic downturn on our high streets - this trend is not going to change in those smaller towns and cities. I see a gradual shift over time of how the property market in these areas actually operates - much more flexible lease terms are one sensible consequence to help fill the voids although this will do nothing to revive the property investment market which has thrived on secure decent rental returns for many years.

All of the above said, it doesnt have to be doom and gloom for our high streets but we do need some joined up thinking. There is not and will not be the demand to fill our vacant shops. To encourage new uses and ideas we need flexibility and relaxation of certain planning constraints. To encourage entrepreneurial start-ups, we need a radical rethink of the how the rating system is applied. In my view this is the single biggest factor discouraging budding retailers from taking space (because landlords are now becoming more flexible on lease terms that is happening).

The irony is that our local authorities are inadvertently quashing growth in their local economy by the inability to manoeuvre the existing rating system to something which works with, and for, a growing retail business. Retail is also still about footfall and although I hate to say it, because it goes against every sustainability argument around; we also have to get real and provide adequate free (timed) parking to encourage consumers into their local hubs. Nailsworth is a great example of where this works really well.

I firmly believe we are better placed in our smaller towns here in the Cotswolds than virtually anywhere to help maintain thriving centres because of tourism and our relative affluence We can all embrace the revival of the localism agenda and look to support our cottage industries and farmers markets but this is only part of the answer. For our nation to meet and deal with one of the largest challenges facing our lifetime we will need to see some fresh initiatives and change to existing inflexible structures and systems sponsored at government level. If this happens and is coupled with the generation of ideas and plans led at a local level (and that work for each unique community) you may get to the beginning of the answer to the question of how to save our national high street.



0 comments

More from Cotswold Life

Yesterday, 14:12

“Life Safe provides a simple yet secure way for clients and their families to keep safe their most important documents and develop a record of their valuable and treasured assets.”

Read more
Yesterday, 14:00

“The logistics hub is another example of where we have worked in partnership to support skills needs in the area and link our student body with future job opportunities.”

Read more
Yesterday, 13:43

“Anyone concerned about the implications of taking on a grant of probate should seek expert help.”

Read more
Yesterday, 12:33

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Yesterday, 12:08

Amid the season of turkey and tinsel Whatley Manor are throwing in a festive curveball, an evening of lobster, fizz & fries!

Read more
Yesterday, 11:04

Christmas shopping at Whatley Manor on the 26th, 27th & 28th November.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:47

Join Whatley Manor on the 30th November for their tasty tapas night.

Read more
Mon, 15:25

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Mon, 15:12

Property prices across Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds have risen steadily over the last few years, reflecting the trend across the country. But which area has shown the most dramatic hike in prices recently, and how does your postcode and house type compare with others in the area? You may be surprised to see the results...

Read more
Mon, 15:11

From mini Norway spruces to luxury Nordman firs, here are eight of the best places to get a luscious, green tree in the Cotswolds this festive season

Read more
Mon, 15:10

The weekend is fast approaching and for those still deciding how to spend their Friday through to Sunday, we pick 5 of the best ways to spend your weekend in the Cotswolds

Read more
Mon, 15:10

Choral carol services and grand instrumental performances, with the backdrop of some of the Cotswolds most picturesque locations, are perfect ways to embrace the festivities. We pick some of the best carol services and concerts to enjoy in the region

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

“‘Flexitarians’ can do one though, being alleged vegetarians who still can’t resist the sizzling siren song of the bacon sandwich when no-one is looking.” Editor Mike Lowe is attempting to seek reconciliation with those he has annoyed… well, sort of.

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

“This letting to Oxford nanoSystems is a fantastic example of how we are able to provide first class facilities for growing technology companies at Abingdon Business Park.”

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search