Glasgow’s shopping reputation under threat, experts warn

Changes in the retail environment and the emergence of out-of-town shopping centres are putting the city centre retail scene in Glasgow under pressure, according to experts from the University of Strathclyde’s Institute of Future Cities.

Photo: Glasgow Style Mile Shopping Festival

The city has been dubbed as ‘the best shopping city in the UK outside of London’ for its mix of fashion, homeware and jewellery options, with major high street outlets, chic boutiques, department stores and designers coming together in the city’s Style Mile.

It has been estimated that the local retail sector contributes £1.8 billion to the city’s economy, and described as a ‘shopaholic’s paradise’ by Lonely Planet. However, a group of researchers have warned that the string of big-name retailers going out of business will continue if Glasgow City Council fails to take radical measures, reported The Herald.

“We’re seeing a lot of retail companies in severe financial problems. Unless they fundamentally change their business models that will continue,” said Robert Rogerson, deputy director at the Institute of Future Cities.

The high street is suffering from a consumer shift towards online shopping, as well as the rise of major shopping and leisure destinations in surrounding areas. And according to the managing director of sports retailer Greaves, Sandy Greaves, barriers put in place by the City Council are adding to the woes.

“Dare I say it, the council have put so many barriers in place to stop people coming in, or to not make it such a nice environment. They are talking about the parking meters going back on a Sunday. What can we do as retailers?,” he told The Herald.

“They have surrounded us with shopping centres at every artery into Glasgow – you’ve got Braehead, the Fort, [and] Silverburn. You’ve got to go past a shopping centre [and] you can park there for nothing.”

In its report, the Institute of Future Cities suggests changes to planning regulations to allow independent business and pop-up traders to have access to commercial space in the city centre.

“Try to create a more diverse set of spaces so you must allow some of this space to be let in small blocks so it’s not all giant blocks,” commented Rogerson, of the Institute of Future Cities. “Essentially you’re trying to create a more vibrant city centre more able to adapt.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Glasgow City Council reassured it is responding to this by developing various mixed use schemes and mechanisms for retailers to join them.

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