The Empty Shops Of Regent Street

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  • #56435

    Jones The Computer
    Participant

    Great to see this topic come up on the forum as I think it is a major issue for Wrexham. The answer to why there so many empty shops is simple: the cost of running a business in Wrexham Town Centre is greater than the revenue generated. There are of course two sides to this equation – firstly costs:

    Rental values are coming down slowly, though many businesses are tied into long lease periods with no option for rent reduction. Bizzarely many large property companies would prefer an empty shop with a high rental as lower rent would reflect badly on the value of their assets.

    Rates. These are based on a valuation by the VOA and a multiplier set by central government. In theory the council has no control over these, but rumours exist that deals have been made with Eagles Meadow and I am sure that there is something that can be done. There are rate reliefs available: small business and rural; but these exacerbate the problem as most town centre properties have a high value (because they are where they are) and therefore don’t qualify. Businesses outside the town do qualify and this means that it is cheaper to relocate there.

    Secondly, revenue generation – as has been mentioned the economic situation doesn’t help. People are fearful of spending what money they have because they don’t know (no-one knows!) what is around the corner. However, I think that we have reached a tipping point in the density of shops i.e. the ratio of open to closed shops and therefore the tendency of a shopper to visit that particular street or area. This has lead to a downward spiral. There are of course the peripheral aspects such as parking, bus services, cleanliness etc which need to be addressed. The free bus pass means that it costs the same to go shopping in Chester as it does in Wrexham. What I always find makes a great shopping experience is small unique friendly independent shops (I declare an interest!) whether it be the rows in Chester or the Shambles in York and yet the council always seems to favour the multiples which every town/city has. Differentiation is the key. Notice how the report linked below only looks at data on big businesses:

    https://www.wrexham.gov.uk/MinutesData/EnvRegen/Reports/CEDO2609sai.doc

    I would like to see the updated version if there is one.
    Eagles Meadow has definitely fragmented the town along with the half empty Border retail park and B&Q area. I would add a word of caution that the council should not only promote new business but maintain existing ones as well.

    I agree with the earlier post that the Monday Market should expand into the town and if necessary into the Councillors’ car park. Why not put the fair there as well!

    Finally, I think we should have an independent inquiry (Leveson style) to openly bring together all the concerns and ideas of the many stakeholders of Wrexham. It would only need a few days to hear evidence and could be chaired by someone with good local knowledge – not be a council stitch up or carried by property consultants with vested interests.

    #56437

    BWB
    Participant

    Some shops within eagles meadow have had their rates reduced. These reductions have come about because through an appeal the valuation office have decided that the price per square meter of the shop is too high, therefore their Rateable Value was too high.

    As far as I can see these are the only reasons reductions in eagles meadow have taken place (and its not for every shop,only ones that have had an appeal concluded and agreed). If there has been any other form of rates reduction the council have agreed it between them and eagles meadow. On the one hand you want to keep the big shops happy as they no doubt draw the main bulk of shoppers to an area (for example, if a Marks and Spencer comes on to a street, people often see their rates increase as M&S bring more shoppers therefore more footfall and therefore shops often get more passing trade and therefore are more desirable and easily let out). The point here though, is that all the big shops are in one part of town, and therefore take the footfall and passing trade away from the other end of town. The local retailers of Wrexham need help with their rates too, and it shouldn’t just be the big shopping centres and big name shops that get the benefits.

    What I did also notice is that % drops for loss of trade are only given to shopping centres when only a few shops have been let and the rest are empty. This does not apply to high streets where lots of shops have become vacant.

    However, this is on the valuation office : “During the life of the Rating List redevelopment may result in changes to the shopping patterns and hence rental values”.

    I would say this applies to the shops of Regent St and other surrounding areas, so I would have thought the people of regent st and surrounding arrears have good reason to appeal their rates.

    I also note that the shops in regent st had a 25% reduction in rates from 2008-2010 due to the affect of eagles meadow opening. % reductions such as these are re-assessed at the start of a new rating list (2010 in this case) and was not continued. Therefore the local valuation office did not think that eagles meadow was still affecting trade around Regent St and other streets passed 2010.

    #56430

    Jonesy
    Participant

    Interesting stuff.

    I’ve got a couple of points to make, but I thought I would throw in some stuff about the Monday/beast market – just my opinion and for debate!

    I don’t think any markert like that can really prosper and adds little to improve footfall in towns. In the days that the old eagles meadow market was heaving the key things sold were tin/packet food, household/cleaning stuff and clothes. For better or worse all these were hit by supermarkers stocking more varied stuff and discounting hard and high street shops like savers/wilkinson covering household/diy et al at “market prices” everyday. Primark et al has killed market clothes. Even in the last years of eagles meadow the market was much, much quieter than years ago.

    Walking past the monday stores recently there was not many people looking – what is everyone else’s experience?

    What can work is more “specialist” markets if you like, think farmers (though they have their issues) which I think Wrexham has got/tried? Could be an idea to try and diversify the monday market a bit? Maybe more pitches could work. Anyone other types of market, in Cardiff a traveling German market was always popular!

    Wrexham needs to make more of the indoor markets – these are good for niche stalls and good food stuff etc. Its being talked about in other topics but sad to see empty pitches in all three. This IS an area where council own the freehold (I think!) so more rent control possible….

    #56434

    justjojo2011
    Participant

    @Jonesy 1197 wrote:

    Interesting stuff.

    I’ve got a couple of points to make, but I thought I would throw in some stuff about the Monday/beast market – just my opinion and for debate!

    I don’t think any markert like that can really prosper and adds little to improve footfall in towns. In the days that the old eagles meadow market was heaving the key things sold were tin/packet food, household/cleaning stuff and clothes. For better or worse all these were hit by supermarkers stocking more varied stuff and discounting hard and high street shops like savers/wilkinson covering household/diy et al at “market prices” everyday. Primark et al has killed market clothes. Even in the last years of eagles meadow the market was much, much quieter than years ago.

    Walking past the monday stores recently there was not many people looking – what is everyone else’s experience?

    What can work is more “specialist” markets if you like, think farmers (though they have their issues) which I think Wrexham has got/tried? Could be an idea to try and diversify the monday market a bit? Maybe more pitches could work. Anyone other types of market, in Cardiff a traveling German market was always popular!

    Wrexham needs to make more of the indoor markets – these are good for niche stalls and good food stuff etc. Its being talked about in other topics but sad to see empty pitches in all three. This IS an area where council own the freehold (I think!) so more rent control possible….

    I always find the market busy, and spent most of my 30 minute lunch break just trying to get to and from wherever I go for my lunch. It’s why i gave up and reclined to over priced sarnies in the Co-Op. The fruit and veg stalls always seem to be really busy but that’s pretty much it. Everyone else is always just looking, only ever buying off the fruit and veg, and to be honest, i don’t buy off there anymore cuz it’s crap lol.

    But I do agree with more specialised markets. Maybe even like “car boot sales” in town on say a Saturday or something. Maybe this would push out the shops but it would probably big foot traffic into town.

    A German market would be good, which would mean my fella wouldn’t have to go all the way to Birmingham for it lol. I think they have tried a butchers market previously, I always thought it was pretty good but doesn’t seem to be making a come back. And the continental market, I loved

    #56426

    MadMan
    Participant

    I have heard JJB is closing at the end of the month which is another blow. Decathlon would be a good addition to compete with dw sports and sports direct the latter which sells cheap tat and is a terrible shopping experience. They are mainly on retail parks so the old pc world would be ideal.

    #56419

    wrexview
    Participant

    If you are right that would be another bitter blow to that part of town, they have a large square footage of retail space and it will be difficult to fill. Are they closing or relocating?

    #56414

    Rob
    Participant

    JJB has been more of an outlet style shop rather than one of their proper stores lately so it wouldn’t be a surprise.

    #56415

    Rob
    Participant

    Danofthewibble has just said hes seen a sign saying JJB gone as of the 24th.

    #56425

    Born Acorn
    Participant

    Has anyone mentioned the internet? I’d say that was a major factor for reduced footfall in most population centres in the run to to the economic crisis; which just ensured the closure of many businesses.

    Game/Gamestations are an example; with games now downloadable online through Steam, XBox Live or PSN, it can be quicker and cheaper to purchase and download than go into town!

    Other goods must still be delivered, but with more shops lowering their “free delivery over X” prices, and some even going free delivery for everything, will town centres even be a thing in 20 years?

    #56412

    Liam
    Participant
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