Is this the death of the UK high street?
What’s in store? With the news that HMV is now in administration, shortly after the shock demise of Jessops and Comet, Tom Mack reports.
Will the city centre end up as a deserted ghost town, or perhaps a massive sprawl of pound shops? Well, not according to retail expert Phil Garton.
The De Montfort University lecturer says despite online shopping and the collapse of High Street names such as Jessops, HMV and Comet, the city centre shopping experience will continue well into the future.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
"This is no more than evolution," he said. "HMV has been a long time going, and had a lot of restructuring, but ultimately it's not adapted to the changes in how people live and listen to music.
"City centre shops may close down, but the people who actually own those spaces are getting nothing while they are vacant, so new businesses will move in, even if rentals have to come down in price."
Phil said there was likely to be a change in the type of business coming to the city's shopping areas, for instance with the centre of the city getting more places to eat and drink.
"We will see the High Street evolve and planners will have to be more flexible," he said.
"It's difficult to see there being more clothing shops and I don't expect more pound shops – there are already competitive markets for them.
"I think there will be more leisure use but if the rental situation changes, and rents plummet, who knows what we will see coming back into the city centre?"
Phil stressed that Leicester City Council would have to play a key role in keeping visitors coming to the city centre as the economy recovered.
"In Leicester, the plans for the market and for things to be integrated more will be a good thing," he said, referring to the authority's plan to demolish the indoor market and replace it with a modern food hall, and city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby's £19 million Connecting Leicester initiative to link up historic parts of the city with its shopping streets.
The scheme includes the proposed £4 million Jubilee Square, to be built at what is at the moment the Lanes car park, in St Nicolas Place, to mark the Queen's visit to the city last year.
"Over the coming years, the need for significant changes to create new space will be pressing – not necessarily another shopping centre, but attractive spaces which will draw people in and make them feel comfortable in the city centre," said Phil.
"We are coming out of the darker days of depression, but we have a few years to go which is why we need the city council to take the lead."
Sir Peter agrees the council has to help ensure the future of Leicester as a shopping destination, and said the city had to build on the success of Highcross, which had drawn more people to the city since it opened in 2008.
"This is exactly why we've got to keep investing in the city centre and why Jubilee Square and the rebuilding of the indoor market are of such vital importance," he said.
"If we just allow city centres to go on as they always have done, they are going to be faced with very serious challenges.
"We've got to keep building on the enormous success we've had as a result of the Highcross."