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.