Published on Wednesday, 28th February 2018

 

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for the retail sector, with both Toys R Us and Maplin Electronics likely to disappear completely and with closure dates announced for Marks and Spencer’s, in Portsmouth and in Fareham.

 

Shopping habits are changing rapidly. Nationwide approximately 15% of retail spending goes on online purchases, while out-of-town centres continue to grow and the likes of Asda and Tesco sell an ever wider range of goods. This is bound to have an effect on the High Street.

 

Locally, the City Council is doing what it can to support shops. This includes, for example, establishing a market in Cosham and continuing to offer some, admittedly limited, free parking in Southsea and other district centres. As it does not own any town centre shops, the council cannot determine rent levels. Business rates for shops are generally coming down though. The rateable value for Debenhams in Commercial Road is now £915,000, compared to £1,280,000 in 2010 and the value for the Marks and Spencer’s store has fallen from £715,000 to £610,000 over the same period.

 

Commercial Road is also getting at least some relief from having large numbers of students living in the city centre and will also benefit when the two new hotels planned for the area open. In the longer run, a lot is hinging on the City Centre Road Scheme and the new shopping area that will follow if it goes ahead. In future, retail will be concentrated in a small number of big centres. Portsmouth city centre needs to join Southampton and Guildford as a shopping and leisure destination.

 

Tags: Town Centres, Retail