A new retail future
context and challenges
Julian Dobson, director, Urban Pollinators
ONCE UPON A TIME...
THERE WAS A VISION OF A SHINY NEW FUTURE, LIKE THE ONE BEING ASSEMBLED IN OTHER CITIES...
BUT WHAT HAPPENS TO THE BEST-LAID PLANS?
WHY CONTEXT MATTERS, AND WHY THERE’S MORE THAN ONE WAY OF LOOKING AT IT
‘There is a concern that the High Street shopping
experience to which society has grown
accustomed... is changing and we are not sure
whether we will like either how it will change or
what it will be changed to.’
John Dawson, 1988
No more salvation by shopping
1 Concentration: 50% of shopping centre and
high street leases will expire by 2015. Big brands
are retreating into prime locations.
2 Polarisation: Liverpool One brought investment
of £1bn and 43,000 new shoppers into Liverpool.
Meanwhile Bootle and Runcorn were named as
worst performing centres in northwest.
3 Digitisation: 12% of all UK sales were online in
2012. E-books now bigger than hardbacks in US.
The orthodoxy: ‘The New Retail Quarter will
provide a high class regional shopping and
leisure facility which would compete with other
city centres such as Manchester, Leeds and
Nottingham. The scheme would drive private
sector investment in the City Centre and create
high quality retail and leisure led mixed use
scheme and consolidate the prime retail offer.’
Shefﬁeld City Council, October 2013
A STRETCHED CITY
DOES SHEFFIELD NEED THE CITY CENTRE AS MUCH AS THE CITY CENTRE NEEDS SHEFFIELD?
An underperforming city?
1 Entrepreneurship: Shefﬁeld is increasingly
shifting from big industrial enterprises to small
businesses. But it has only 29 start-ups per
10,000 people - the national average is 42.
2 Income: Wages in Shefﬁeld are falling
(meaning less disposable income) - £444 per
week compared with £502 national average.
3 Consumption: UK personal debt is almost as
high as annual economic output - sustainable?
OR A CREATIVE CITY?
WHAT RESOURCES CAN SHEFFIELD DRAW ON TO INFORM ITS USE OF CITY CENTRE SPACE?
A creative city
1 Culture: An enviable cluster of cultural assets:
theatres, music venues, galleries, performance
2 Making: Can the spirit of the ‘little mesters’ be
captured in today’s retail environment?
3 Learning: Is it time for Shefﬁeld’s universities
and learning institutions to take centre stage?
International students alone contribute £120m to
ACTS OF FAITH? TWO PERSPECTIVES ON ‘DOABLE’
BIGGER AND BOLDER OR LIGHTER, QUICKER, CHEAPER?
BIGGER AND BOLDER
‘A NEW ERA OF WORLD-CLASS ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE’
‘...a considerable cost difference between the
type of scheme that most people with an interest
in place would like to see and what those in the
industry believe can actually be delivered...’
email from council ofﬁcer, 2014
Of the £30m paid for groceries in Totnes, Devon,
only 33% is spent in independent shops and only
27% on locally sourced products - an
opportunity to reconnect up to £20m of spending
with local producers and retailers.
Totnes Local Economic Blueprint, 2013
Some bigger questions
1 Who owns the city? Are rents and proﬁts from
land and property assets returning to the
locality, or to distant and disengaged owners?
2 Who beneﬁts from the city? Are decisions
made in order to attract inward investors, or to
support locally grounded innovation and
3 Who determines the future? What will retail
look like in 2034? What do we want it to be like?
...and they all lived happily ever after?
‘What attracts people to places is interesting
things. It’s people that attract people to
places.’ (Marcus Westbury, Renew Newcastle)
Do we need to change the retail offer, or to
change the story of the city?