Mass Retail Space Exodus – problem

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    You have to wonder what’s going to replace Pound World / Bargain Buys & The Chinese Buffet when these all get permanently vacated after closure.

    Ex-Woolies & its downstairs represent 2 huge spaces. Lord Street is now blighted by mamba addicts so most likely had an adverse effect on people wanting to go to the buffet. Who wants to see those states as part of an all you can eat experience? Is there a food chain that would find the set-up inside the buffet ready to go and move in. Either a local initiative or a national chain.

    Then it looks like the bubble has burst on the discount cheap as chips market, there are simply too many of them – B&M, Poundland, Home Bargains, QD, Wilkos etc…so I can’t see another discount chain leaping into the Woolies space unless it’s one of those less than reputable pop up retailers who will go in there for 3 months with their back of lorry stock then vanish.

    The Poundworld location will probably attract a decent brand name retail replacement after Eagle’s Meadow received its 10 year glowing report.

    You just have to wonder with such a dire trading environment what is going to be moved into any of the empty units on Henblas.

    So far the only new developments working for these spaces at the top end of town have been alt projects such as the business hub and the expansion of Techniquest.

    Then if you look at a 5 year outlook on town centre retail, things could even be bleak for even Eagle’s Meadow etc…

    M&S are closing stores across the UK, will they call time on the Wrexham branch? House of Fraser are struggling and closing stores, which signals that most department chains are in trouble. It’s only a matter of time before Debenhams stores get targeted for closure. Will Wrexham’s be under threat? After all people were used to going to the much larger & exclusive Browns of Chester for years before we got one in Wrexham.


    Council Watcher

    Although Eagles Meadow had a really good write up in the press recently even they are already getting empty units. If Poundland is closing how many others are in a precarious position. Looking in the business press the next that will be going will be phone shops as consumers are planning on longer to a phone and moving to SIM deals which are not as profitable as full-blown contract phones. How long can the shops that only offer a single network survive – consumers want competition so will go to locations where they can look against different networks.

    We have to except that within 2 years it is predicted that there will; be an increase in vacant retail store space by 30% plus. The towns of the future will not be a recreation of the towns that used to flourish – consumers are driving change at a faster rate than traditional store-based retailers are able to cope.

    Town Centre shopping is almost a secondary reason for many people visiting an area- more than ever people go to town for social reasons- for this treason they are looking for alternate locations to meet up with friends and do not need a town center. An example of this is Bellis’s Farm Shop in Holt — look at the numbers in the cafe then look how many people leave the shop with no carrier bags or a trolley not many, as they have gone to socialize with family or friends not purchase items for the garden.



    B and M are doing well on the Central Retail Park , but they have moved to get the advantage of FREE parking. Parking charges are very important in this difficult trading environment and the Council need to revisit their tariffs and come up with some attractive offers …..Free Fridays, Free Early Bird Shopping, Free After Three, are just a few ideas. Waiting until December for some free parking may well be too late !



    Isn’t there a good chance that ALL physical retail, at least in its traditional form, will become obsolete over the medium term? People tend to buy things online now and the older generation who don’t will die out. If so, this is just part of that transition process. I think that once Amazon perfects its mega-warehouse type stores and that comes to the UK, that will be the main physical retail space in the future, and perhaps manufacturer focused “showrooms” like the Apple Store might also survive.



    One of the biggest issues now is the size of the stories that are becoming vacant as the ‘big boys’ start to desert High Street retailing. The units available are so large in many locations that they will never get a re-occupancy- smaller units could be taken up by niche retailers.

    The larger stores that are owned by pension funds will have generated large profits over a period of time so they can afford to keep them empty for a while before they act. It is inevitable that we shall see many being converted into ‘activity’ type stores – some areas have already started with indoor golf, indoor driving range, lock in games etc. This mix helps to generate more leisure supporting shops and food outlets.

    The long-term nature of pension fund investments highlights why there are often very long periods of time when a store remains empty before anything seems to occur. Gone are the days when Wrexham was owned by a very few local property owners and store owners who could react quickly to changes.

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