Declining footfall on the UK’s high streets, the Covid-19 pandemic and the end of the Government’s moratorium on rents have combined to create a perfect storm for the retail sector. The challenges faced by the sector have been felt acutely in Nottingham, with uncertainty surrounding the future of the Broadmarsh Centre impacting retailers of every shape and size.
So, how do we create a viable retail city in a post-pandemic world? Here, one of the city’s best known Chartered Surveyors Sunny Landa MRICS explains why a “one size fits all” mentality won’t cut the mustard – and why the city’s retail offering must be tailored to its people.
For any retail city to succeed it’s important not to adopt a one size fits all mentality, but property professionals can sometimes be out of tune with this. Some assume that what works for the retail sector in Leicester or Derby will work here in Nottingham, but each area has unique characteristics which need to be taken into account.
That applies across the UK, too. The retail scene in Nottingham shouldn’t just be a carbon copy of, say, what works in Liverpool. This is not to put down the people of our great city, but merely to acknowledge the fact that consumers in different cities expect different experiences when they shop.
This is the bottom line. A city’s retail offering – including its shopping centres – should be tailored to its unique constituency. If retail in Nottingham is to thrive post-pandemic, property experts should place more emphasis on what Nottinghamites expect, what we know they enjoy, and on what has worked here in the recent past. Thinking about our unique catchment area is vitally important if we’re to make the most of the vast opportunities this city presents.
So, what do the people of Nottingham tend to look for in a retail experience? The lockdown period gave us some good clues. Coffee shops (when they were open), experience-led businesses and grocery stores all did well here during the pandemic. Other retail subsectors such as women’s fashion fared less well. What does this tell us? That a convenience, experience and leisure-led retail scene is what works in Nottingham – and this is what we as property professionals should be looking to create as the city moves forward.
We need to think outside the box and tailor our retail core around our unique catchment area. Derby and Leicester are both great cities with wonderful people, but we are not them. At least not precisely. Each part of our region has its own unique character, and I believe the retail scene in each area is more likely to succeed if it caters to the specific needs and preferences of the locals.
A city packed with great people is a city brimming with potential. We may have lost the Broadmarsh centre, but with Nottingham Forest flying high there’s a feelgood atmosphere around the city again. Let’s sing from the rooftops and make our retail scene the best it possibly can be.