‘Current Economical Climate’ Sees Plans to Partially Convert Retail Space…….

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  • #112610
    Alunh
    Alunh
    Participant

    Shopkeepers in Wrexham are pretty much like any town Benjamin, a mixture of good and bad. The stats actually tell you two things. One is that Wrexham has more retail capacity than anywhere else in North Wales and in one recent survey, Wrexham was in the Top 100 shopping areas in the UK (floor-space wise) The second thing that the stats will tell you is that Wrexham has no worse an occupancy level than other towns of its size across the UK.

    Clearly there are bad retail operations and, having been part of the Market set-up, I quite accept your point about many retailers being impervious to their own shortcomings when it comes down to reasons for lack of success. That said, we are not talking about the defects of the retailer here- I will take this as a given that many will be poor- what we are talking about is how best to ensure that over time, shops get better and the town becomes even more of a draw.

    I am quite convinced that you, like most contributors on this site, would like to see Wrexham morphing into something better than it is, and what we are searching for collectively is methods to arrive at that outcome. It is a collective waste of all our time to premise everything on some misplaced idea that Wrexham cannot be better and that there are not consensually agreed upon ideas that can make it so

    #112633

    JaneJ
    Participant

    Slightly off the subject but certainly linked is how people are now shopping. If you look at two of the fastest growing retail company’s at the moment Aldi and Lidl. There policy is only to have one or two varieties of a particular product ie Baked Beans compared with Tesco with about 6 varieties. They are proving quaility and cost are the two key things consumers are looking for. Not a vast array of different brands. They have shown within a 5 year period that they were understanding the requirements of the the supermarket consumer and changed peoples thinking from being stores with funny continental food and branding to the driven force they are today.
    The Big Four supermarkets at the time thought they would be here today gone tomorrow how very wrong they were. They did this at their peril and has shown how being complacent has damaged their business modelling.
    Were does this leave Wrexham – firstly the need for retailers to be fully aware of what consumers want, changes in shopping habits and crucially changes to their product range and services to meet the new consumer trends.
    There are a few new independents that are finding their niche through quaility– EMZ Cakes, Hoffi Coffi, and !!
    I appreciate that people are trying but lifestyle/hobby shops dont make people any money to reinvest.

    #112634
    Alunh
    Alunh
    Participant

    Quite correct about the need for the Independents to adapt to what the Reports (and common sense) dictate is a survival strategy. If you have a look at Bank Street currently, you will note at one end an Electrical goods supplier, then a specialist Butchers, a Conservatory specialist (and windows), an excellent Hairdressers or 2, a wonderful Comic shop, a Game Play specialist (coming soon!), an excellent shop selling Bangles (and of course beads), a shop selling a whole mix of products from Vape kits to whatever, to an iconic Cafe, to a key cutters. Every shop on that street has adapted in the ways that you mention.

    What worries me is if there is any pessimistic vision of what is possible in Wrexham taking root rather than a remedial and positive approach to encourage and grow

    #112635

    MP1953
    Participant

    Slightly off the subject but certainly linked is how people are now shopping. If you look at two of the fastest growing retail company’s at the moment Aldi and Lidl. There policy is only to have one or two varieties of a particular product ie Baked Beans compared with Tesco with about 6 varieties. They are proving quaility and cost are the two key things consumers are looking for. Not a vast array of different brands. They have shown within a 5 year period that they were understanding the requirements of the the supermarket consumer and changed peoples thinking from being stores with funny continental food and branding to the driven force they are today.
    The Big Four supermarkets at the time thought they would be here today gone tomorrow how very wrong they were. They did this at their peril and has shown how being complacent has damaged their business modelling.
    Were does this leave Wrexham – firstly the need for retailers to be fully aware of what consumers want, changes in shopping habits and crucially changes to their product range and services to meet the new consumer trends.
    There are a few new independents that are finding their niche through quaility– EMZ Cakes, Hoffi Coffi, and !!
    I appreciate that people are trying but lifestyle/hobby shops dont make people any money to reinvest.

    Again slightly off subject maybe, but another company that is thriving not just in Wrexham but throughout the country is Wetherspoon’s because it provides what people want from opening to closing whether it is coffee (or beer etc.) in the mornings, breakfasts, lunchtime trade, they sell more fish and chips on a Friday than any all other outlets combined, evening trade, you name it they do it for the customer, and in the process they also generally do up old buildings to a high standard that would otherwise be left empty and they are still expanding

    The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.

    #112637

    Nen
    Participant

    This seems to be part of a wider debate / problem around the future of “high street” retail in general. The traditional model of large scale high street retailers seems to be dead or rapidly dying on its feet – big names of the past like Woolworths, C&A, Littlewoods long gone, BHS looking like it could be next. WH Smith looks a chaotic shambles of its former self. How long before M&S and Boots go the same way?

    Their demise seems largely down to a rapid cultural shift in people’s tastes and habits towards large supermarkets like Tescos, out-of-town retail parks and shopping centres with their unlimited free parking and, of course, online shopping.

    How does the High Street survive in the face of this paradigm shift?

    Maybe “experience shopping” where shoppers can browse in a clean, fun and immersive marketplace environment (a million miles away from the grubby, smelly indoor markets of Wrexham)- being able to pick up and try goods in an interactive way. A mixture of manufacturer retailers (like Apple Store, Lego Store, etc) and independent “boutique” stores.

    I would be interested to hear AlunH’s (or anyone else’s) views on this wider problem and the potential solutions.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  Nen.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  Nen.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by  Nen.
    #112640

    Katia
    Participant

    Retailers may well need to look again at their way of doing business to successfully move forwards given the increasing popularity of shopping online.

    In addition to shopkeepers one other group that could do with revising their business model particularly given their income from town centres is reducing by the week are councils themselves

    With the average band D council tax for Wales for 2016-17 at £1,374. This includes £1,127 for county councils, £216 for police and £30 for community councils. Plus remember that £1 in every £5 is purely towards funding pensions not services – the whole system needs overhauling.
    We are being charged too much for local councils, Welsh Assembly etc as individuals.

    Then on top of this to charge so many thousands of pounds for retail space in the town AND expect to make money from customers parking etc just isn’t viable. Thats before frightening away shoppers with £80 fines for minor littering etc.
    Before any business owner in the town starts making any money for themselves they have to put too much time and effort into paying for their overheads. If the burden could be reduced substantially it may encourage more of those with an entrepreneurial spirit to start trading in the town and fill up empty retail space.

    If the tax burden was moved from local shops etc to be replaced with a levy on internet sales it may level the trading proposition – but it will never happen. For example I recently needed some small batteries for a remote control £2.99 each in Maplins – £1.33 for 10 with free postage on Amazon. Is there possibly something anybody can think of that allows Amazon to still make a profit ?

    Do we really want Wrexham to follow the principle of so many small towns in USA where they have a compact Historic Downtown Shopping Attraction consisting of one small street with a little market attached surrounded by housing. I can see it coming, focused on High Street from the Wynnstay to Church Street including the market and leading to Bank Street one end down to the Nags Head at the other – with Eagles Meadow attached. Everything else abandoned, derelict and plump with the empty promise of unwanted town centre apartments. Eventually becoming a dormitory for commuters to Liverpool, Manchester & Chester.

    #112648
    Alunh
    Alunh
    Participant

    So many good points and observations above

    On some of the observations that you make, Nen, you are quite right to anticipate what is likely to happen in the next time cycle and identify questions that we should now be asking ourselves on this subject. In fairness, WCBC has shown that it has at least recognized a problem and has put a Masterplan out there

    Me being me, I hope that the discussion does not become one based in doom and gloom. There are many negative factors in play but, equally, there are so many positive sets of Reports coming out that there is much to mull over.

    It is fair to say that the type of High Street that we had circa 1980-2000 will not return. The Internet and the out of town Supermarkets will take up the bulk purchases. These will find themselves under pressure from, say, Aldi and others who provide a variation on a theme.

    If we (including Government) accept this, then we have to dramatically change the nature of Town Centres, as you say, to provide a rich experience. This can be done and the Manchester Met have produced some great work on this area. Towns have to become so interesting and provide things that are personal and unique to them to blend in with whatever national chains remain on the High Street. Rates have to be changed and political parties have to make towns viable as Commercial centres, perhaps end loading taxes or raising Vat as preferable to front loaded Rates. Car Parking and every other transport mode have to be developed to allow Access to all (Pedestrians, Bikers, Cars, Buses, the Disabled….). Planning decisions have to be spot on and smaller units emphasized at the expense of the scale units. Variable offer Markets have to be developed so as to encourage starter Enterprise and also to allow local to be featured….especially where locally sourced food, crafts and Art are concerned. Independent shops, Cafes and similar have to be encouraged and it would be helpful if local Universities and Colleges helped develop Courses that inculcated business, retail and service principles into their courses. The Welsh Assembly already has the Big Ideas scheme

    Neither Governments at national level or at local level can create or recreate towns but they can produce the conditions for Enterprise and Retail to flourish

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by Alunh Alunh.
    #112652
    Alunh
    Alunh
    Participant

    Katia; I was shocked when I went to the USA recently and saw their towns. The heart and soul had disappeared from many of them.

    That said, towns like Wilmington, North Carolina have been fighting back with many of the ideas that the Manchester Met have identified. There, they seem to be riding the heritage horse, creatively using old buildings and not allowing the destruction of the familiar and beautiful (like the Groves) and trying to make their streets and towns family friendly. I like the Nigel Lewis inspired street festivals that we are currently hosting and there needs to be an emphasis on community renewal within our towns.

    On that last note, we have to be absolutely intolerant of the intolerable and the swathe of anti-social practices that we see on our streets needs to be stamped out

    #112654

    Nen
    Participant

    Some High Street blasts from the past here…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36148788

    #118060

    Swan
    Participant

    I do love to hear everybody talk about the old town and its decline and they all seem to have an answer. Let me say firstly I was raised in a major city and this opens your eyes to some very simple facts of life. You must have the first ingredient in any business and running a town is just the same its no biggy. People !! we have to get people back into this area before anything else can happen. In this I agree with what Mr Lucas said recently in trying to encourage landlords to rethink there properties in the town I believe this is nothing to do with rents or rates but somehow getting the council to fund the regeneration of residential life in this central area. I also believe the Groves site and some others near to the town should be high quality apartments to bring more of this life back. The areas of Hope Regent Lord Queen and other Streets are finished and there is no way to bring retail back to them. The bus station should have been set in Eagles Meadow. This would have been a great site a central bus and coach station for all of North Wales. Putting the Meadow there instead always meant the splitting of the town with only one winner, and big money was talking. Creating real life in the old town area will support small retail units of a new kind again in the future, but we must bring it alive and this means new thinking new lifestyles and moving away from the old ideas. What’s done is done move on or die.

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