Rhys Owen, Leasing Director, Orbit Developments, shares his thoughts on Stockport’s recent closures and how the town can build on its current strengths.
Stockport has had its share of challenges in the last few weeks with the news that some significant retailers are closing their doors.
It’s a shame to see a high street brand leave the town, but the reality is that if those stores weren’t appealing to customers, and weren’t attractive in appearance or product range then is it a surprise?
There’s a general feeling that some brands have almost abandoned their Stockport branches. They’ve been left looking like temporary stores, without investment, refurbishment or slight improvements, despite other stores in similar towns undergoing modernisation.
In order to attract shoppers into the town centre, we need more than just the ‘brand name’, we need full investment into the outlets themselves. Retail across the country, if not the world, is changing. Consumers see shopping as a chore, they are looking for experiences.
Consumers want unique and ‘Instagrammable’ products and stores to show friends and family what they are doing at the weekend.
Markets have made a return, but with a twist. They are attractive Artisan markets, food markets or craft markets, stocked full of products that are unique and can’t be bought readily online.
And this is one of Stockport town centre’s strengths that we should take advantage of. Our independent offer is strong and growing and there is a real opportunity to utilise the aesthetically pleasing areas of Underbanks and the Market Place in order to develop and grow this offer.
With independent retailers comes a need for fresh thinking and flexibility is key here in order to help the retail community. We need to create opportunities for start-up outlets maybe through pop-up stores or incentives on vacant space.
Whatever it is, it will help set Stockport aside from the other towns and attract people looking for a new experience.