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Assess the impact of out-of-town centre retailing areas on the regions in which they occur.

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Assess the impact of out-of-town centre retailing areas on the regions in which they occur. (40 marks)

To start with, I believe the biggest effect these retailing areas have on the regions where they are situated is that they are draining sales in that surrounding area. For example, The Trafford centre which is situated in the former wasteland of 300 acres in the Dumplington district on the outskirts of Trafford Park is draining sales from surrounding towns and districts such as Bolton, Stockport, Altringham and Warrington by what was anticipated to be up to 20%. It hasn’t actually damaged those areas as bad ass that but has caused temporary decline and a smaller percentage in loss in sales of around 6%.

One of the biggest contributory factors to the impact of these out-of-town retailing areas on the surrounding areas is land value. Shops on the High Street of these surrounding areas pay a much higher rental value per square metre than in the out-of-town shopping centres. This means it is more profitable for companies to buy land in these out-of-town areas as they get a lot more money overall as the rental is cheaper and business is still good as lots of shoppers are constantly there using the facilities. A comparison for this can be seen between Oxford Street in London and Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield. Oxford Street costs £4400 per square metre per year and Sheffield’s Meadowhall only costs £217 per square metre per year. You can see why these out-of-town retailing areas are more appealing to respective retailers.

The out-of-town retailing areas are also much more appealing to families. In these retailing areas there are crèches where parents can drop their children off at the start of the day, go shopping and do what they need to do and then come back and pick them up. Also if parents don’t fancy dropping their kids off, there are multi-screen cinemas, bowling alleys, restaurants and many other attractions within the complex. This means shopping is no longer a problem for parents with children as they will not become bored and restless like they may do if they went on the High Street shopping. For these out-of –town shopping centres, this is a massive advantage and pull factor for them.

On the other hand, we are seeing signs of another factor which is becoming detrimental to both the High Street and the out-of-town retailing areas. Internet shopping has increased dramatically now and from 2009 where internet shopping accounted for 7.9% of retail sales in the UK, it rose another 2.6% to 10.5% in 2010 and now in the year of 2012, Internet shopping accounted for a record of 16% of all retail sales in the UK. This figure is now very worrying to all retailers and with these figures only moving in one direction, they need to find a solution to keep shoppers travelling to these out-of-town retailing areas and nipping down to the local High Street.

In smaller town High Streets such as Stalybridge, they are not affected massively by big multi-store complexes in the region but competition with local supermarkets situated on the outskirts of the town. These supermarkets actually don’t offer any competition as they can beat the prices of all local shops on the High Street. In these pressing times where most people are on tight budgets, going to the supermarket is a necessary thing to do, as supporting the High Street on their budget is simply not possible. Money aside, people now want convenience as they want to spend as little time as possible doing the weekly shop. This means supermarkets again fit the bill and get the custom the High Street doesn’t.

Touchwood in Solihull is a new shopping complex that has been designed to fit in with the local High Street. With open spaces and terraces being incorporated into the design, it offers a new look High Street in which locals can enjoy a shopping experience similar to the out-of-town retailing area on their local High Street. This new development generated over 2,000 jobs in the Solihull region and saved the Touchwood High Street. This regeneration needs to occur in more High Streets if they are going to compete with the surrounding out-of-town shopping areas.  

Finally the shops that are situated on the High Street are now seen to be ‘Chasing the Money’ as the wealthy population are moving out of the inner city areas to the suburbs by suburbanisation and counter-urbanisation. This wealthy population have a larger disposable income so shops need to become more accessible to these people, and out-of-town retailing areas are a perfect solution to this. This means these people do not need to travel back into there town or city centres to do some shopping.

In conclusion, out-of-town retailing areas serve a valid purpose and even though they are affecting our high streets, they are also now a vital part of society as they provide a shopping experience for families and provide services a High Street never could. If the High Streets are to regain their former glory, they need to lose some traditional qualities and modernise to adapt to a new society with different needs.

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