Footfall in the High Streets of Eastern England fell by 6.2% during the
second quarter (May to July) of 20l2. The number of vacant shop units
rose to 11.5% and the overall picture remains bleak. The High Street is
no longer the place we go shopping. So where do we go?
Footfall into out-of-town shopping centres and retail parks also fell,
but by an almost insignificant 1% nationally, but spending on the web
almost doubled. A noticeable factor in the downturn in retail spending
is in areas where a significant proportion of the workforce is employed
in the public sector (as in Ipswich).
However, if you think Ipswich has too many empty shops, take pity on the
good folk of Bradford West Yorkshire, Britain's fifth largest city by
population. The city council gave planning permission for a new shopping
centre in 2004, the developer dug an enormous 23 acre hole in the centre
of the city and then pulled out as the recession hit. No matter how hard
you try, you cannot fill a hole with charity shops, community workshops
or even fly-by-night retailers selling Christmas tat.