Prosecco fuelled shopping, private catwalks and endless outfits could be the future of high-street shopping in Sunderland says a retail expert, who believes the future of retail is all about experimental activity.
In recent years more customers are ditching face to face shopping, resulting in tough times for high street chains.
Sunderland understands the importance of meeting the demands of the consumers as plans are underway for renovations to the area to create a vibrate shopping and nightlife experience for locals.
“I think there are challenging times ahead” says Councillor Andrew Wood, who understands the difficulty faced by business in the area.
The Bridges Shopping centre announced that stores are the most occupied that they have been in the last five years, showing that although online sales are 20% of gross sales, Sunderland is working towards the future of the high street.
The Bridges Centre Director, Andrew Bradley understands the importance of meeting the demands of shoppers and moving with the future of shopping: “The future of retail and leisure is about place and not space” says Andrew, who is “focused on making the city centre a great shopping and leisure experience where people want to come and meet friends and family and live and work.”
To prevent the death of Sunderland’s high street the council must invest in property and local business. Sunderland councillor, Andrew wood says: “There was the recent announcement of Sunderland Riverside, the new concert venue is nearing completion. Bishopwearmouth Heritage Fund spending is underway.”
Sunderland needs to meet the demands of locals who want quality food and night life, therefore it is crucial to invest in the public realm which will help to target more consumers in the local area, to boost our economy.
“It needs to be cool, current, exciting, vibrant, safe and clean or people will just go elsewhere. We have a lot to do!” says Bradley.
A factor involving the decline in high-street shopping could be down to accessibility, therefore by improving transport links to Sunderland they can target more consumers from around the North East who will come to Sunderland for a unique shopping and leisure experience.
“I’d like to see improved transport links for buses, more trains into the city centre station and wider metro links and improve the car parking provision”. says councillor Andrew Wood.
In the last year, 100 Marks & Spencer stores have shut, with many of the stores being in small North East towns. This year alone, Sunderland has feared the closure of retail giant Debenhams after plans to shut 22 stores around the country, one being in Stockton. The closure of this store shows that the effects of online shopping are being felt in the area as big companies are cutting staff due to the rise in online shopping circulation.