Improve high street, says Verdict

High streets must improve facilities and increase consumer choice via new retail developments if they are to compete with the most successful retail locations, a new report says.

With increasing amounts of consumers saying they would rather shop at an out-of-town shopping centre or retail park than on a high street, town centres are left facing an uncertain future, according to Verdict on the High Street 2001, a report by Verdict Research.

The report suggests, however, that this trend can be reversed and points to well-performing high streets which are benefiting from, or are planning, major developments. Apart from London’s West End, the other top five locations, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Nottingham, have improved, or are set to improve, facilities such as car parking, safety, access and consumer choice via retail and non-retail outlets.

“[Under-performing high street locations] can improve performance with investment in new retail developments, by making the environment attractive and focusing on non-retail attractions like car parking and signage and by offering consumers a choice, the right mix for that catchment area,” says Verdict Research senior analyst Sally Bain.

“Southampton is an example. It went from number 46 last year to 24 this year in our table of top 100 UK shopping centres. This was a direct result of new development giving a boost to the area,” says Bain. “Investment activity is the only way for the high street to survive given the retail environment and the presence of out-of-town retail parks.”

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