It has been obvious to many of us over the years that the well known town centre blueprint is failing dismally. With falling incomes, online shopping and out of town shopping malls, the traditional British High Street is no longer viable.
People no longer go out for the day to visit a town with the sole purpose of shopping. There is no need when you can do most shopping from the comfort of your own home.
Business Improvement Districts were introduced to give businesses a chance to improve their immediate area using their own money under their control. For some this initiative has worked well however, the preponderance of consultation companies has resulted in a one size fits all business plan which is no longer fit for purpose.
If town centres want to survive in this digital age they need to rethink their offering. Stop looking at what they think they need and start looking at what they have.
The name says it all – Town Centre – These businesses are at the centre of a town, the residents of the town should be their customers. A town centre should cater for the residents of the town, anything else should be a bonus.
Tourist towns were historically geared for the needs of visitors, often to the detriment of local residents. In recent years the tourism industry has changed dramatically in the UK. The businesses which used to cater for these tourists are dying on their feet. At the same time the local residents in these towns have long since ceased to see their own town centres as suitable for their needs.
Towns which were previously retail centres for outlying areas have lost out to online shopping. Out of town retail parks are no longer a place for an outing, if anything they are a trial.
The modern town centre needs to look to what it has and provide what is required.