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Newsletter, April 2009 (Issue 175)

Shopping Centres


I don't know much about the Arc Shopping Centre in Bury St Edmunds. I have been to have a look (when it was a building site) and have heard it's the only new shopping centre to open this year. But why in Bury? And why has Capital just built Chapelfield in Norwich?

Ipswich seems to be missing out and I need to find out the reason. There are some good clues in the DTZ Retail Study of 2005, and maybe it's this information that drives developers elsewhere. Only two-thirds of residents who live in 'outer Ipswich' (outside the Colchester Road ring) shop in Ipswich for clothing, fashion and specialist purchases. The attractiveness of other regional centres (Norwich and Colchester) despite their distance, continue to draw Ipswich shoppers. And if you live in north Ipswich you are more likely to travel to Norwich for your specialist shopping because of 'the quality of the retail offer'.

Ipswich is short on floor space offering 'comparison goods' and investment in this sector has been limited. There has been almost no change in the total over the last five years and the changes have, if anything, been downmarket.

Given the projected population growth and the predicted per capita expenditure, there is likely to be a shortfall of retail floor space over the next few years. So why isn't the Mint Quarter becoming economically viable, why can't Turnstone find an anchor for their Civic Centre site, and will Crown Pools ever move? Perhaps we have a preponderance of out of town superstores, each in turn increasing in size and range, expanding from food into clothing, entertainment and electrical goods (and I hear Sainsburys are looking to increase the floor space in their Hadleigh Road branch).

Prime rents are low compared with both Norwich and Cambridge, a figure which reflects the footfall in the' Golden Mile' - a situation that is likely to continue until quality fashion stores, leisure facilities and a new department store invest in Ipswich. And that's unlikely in the current economic climate, or whilst online shopping grows at the pace it is.

JOHN NORMAN

    Front cover of issue 175 Cover, issue 175

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