Like everyone else I was really shocked by the closure of one of Wilmslow’s most iconic shops. Simon Dunn’s speciality chocolate store was held in great affection by so many but despite peak takings of £4k a week, it just didn’t pay.
With rent and rates pushing £100k, plus wages and utilities, Mr Dunn reluctantly decided he could no longer afford to remain in Wilmslow town centre and will trade from other outlets including the internet.
We need to face it – there is a retail revolution taking place. When McDonalds pulls the plug and Next move out the ground is definitely shifting.
Landlords and councils can no longer ignore the obvious. Independents cannot trade successfully at current rent and tax levels and the multiples are moving out of town to retail parks with free parking and more floor space.
We cannot close our eyes to the success of Handforth Dean and John Lewis.
Rebuilding our town centres to a model that worked in the 80s isn’t going to solve the problem.
The era of shopping centres built around a couple of large anchor stores is over. The internet arrived and changed all the rules. For councils and landlords to plough on as if nothing has changed is denying the obvious.
There simply isn’t enough trade in our town centres to justify historic rates of rent and taxation. Of course, this will be a major adjustment for both landlords and councils but covering their ears and whistling Dixie is simply delaying the inevitable.
They need to embrace the change and plan for the future instead of hanging on to the past. Like it or not we are in the middle of a retail revolution and town centres must change.
It’s do or die.