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, 17:13

If you fancy a Christmas offering that’s absolutely ‘Just So’, then head to Cirencester’s Barn Theatre for a musical that has just about everything, says Miles Jarvis

Read more
Yesterday, 11:20

People travel from far and wide to visit the Cotswolds at Christmas. We’ve compiled 24 reasons why you should join them.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:25

We’ve some extraordinary, and inspiring, women in business in the Cotswolds. We talk to 7 female trailblazers in local industry who offer the business advice they’ve lived by

Read more
Yesterday, 14:39

Recorded in the Domesday Book, Bicester has a rich past relating to sheep, horses, leather working, lace making and military. It’s a treat to visit somewhere new, and so it is with a first-time visitor’s perspective this postcard by Tracy Spiers is written...

Read more
Yesterday, 12:47

Ben Miller tells Katie Jarvis why he loves Kemble Station, the New Inn at Coln and the village of Bagenden...and how he still hasn’t met Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen

Read more
Yesterday, 12:44

Celebrate the other side of Yuletide in the South Gloucestershire village of Marshfield, where on Boxing Day a curious procession from another age can be seen making its way along the High Street...

Read more
Yesterday, 12:29

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Yesterday, 10:21

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
Friday, December 14, 2018

The Cotswolds are abundant with picture perfect locations ideal for a ramble. Gather loved ones, wrap up warm and blow away the cobwebs with one of these winter walks in the region

Read more
Friday, December 14, 2018

Helping clients through divorce, separation and disputes over children, we talk to 8 divorce lawyers in the Cotswolds

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Swan Lake. We know the music, we know the iconic imagery of the beautiful ballerina dressed as a swan, but I’m guessing that without reading the libretto in the program, most people don’t know the story. Which is why the audience relies on the dancers to tell us.

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Tom and Louise are being joined by other new academic appointments that have been made as part of the RAU’s £2.5 million initiative to help meet the future needs of the land management and agri-food sectors

Read more
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

“To win this prestigious award is a real compliment to the wider team in Renishaw’s manufacturing services operation, particularly when we consider the achievements of the other excellent shortlisted companies.”

Read more
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Stepping up to receive the world’s first MBA Leading Business degrees at the ceremony were Sarah Bryars, Chief Executive of Target; Luke Freeman, Joint Chief Executive of MF Freeman; and Linsey Temple, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Engineering Training

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