Bournemouth’s high street is changing, says property expert

23 Apr 2019

The high street isn’t dying – it’s changing. That’s the message from commercial property lawyers at Trethowans Solicitors in Bournemouth, who say shopping districts across the country are starting to adapt to new consumer habits.

James Kidner, Partner in the Bournemouth Commercial Property team: “It’s interesting to read the common narrative that the high street is dying, when the reality is somewhat different. The Trethowans team have been doing some research and found a much more positive outlook than the media generally choose to report.

“It’s interesting to note, for example, that the General Retailers index on the UK stock market has risen 18.5% this year, more than double the FTSE 100 rise of 7.4%. Consumer spending has also gone up, despite Brexit uncertainty.”

James says that while no-one can deny there have been some significant closures on Bournemouth’s high street – with yesterday’s news about Monsoon and Accessorize adding to the headlines – there are also success stories.

“The better retailers have developed ‘multi channel’ strategies, which integrate their high street offering with a high quality online presence, so, far from closing stores and blaming the internet, they’re benefitting from both,” he says.

James believes that the high street is currently going through a phase of change, adapting for new consumer habits. He says: “Much of the high street space being vacated by some retailers is being taken up for alternative uses. The growth of British coffee culture was established long ago and gains further momentum, and whilst the independent butcher, baker and candlestick maker, not to mention greengrocer, is under pressure, the growth in ‘alternative’ uses is unabated.

“Town centres now need to embrace the consumer and provide a range of real experiences, such as art house cinemas, craft drink and food outlets, gyms, art galleries, even indoor crazy golf courses and the like – and this is already happening at scale.”

James cites the work to transform the former Imax Waterfront site into a new adventure golf attraction as an example. “Planners need to try and find a balance between traditional retail, experiential activity and new home creation, to continue to make the traditional town centre a place people want to engage with. I’m pleased to see that’s happening in Bournemouth and the transformation of the old Imax site is a great example. Bournemouth is making waves when it comes to adapting for the future and I’m certainly proud to do business in the town.”

© James Kidner – Partner & Commercial Property Solicitor Bournemouth

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