Nottingham’s High Street is alive and kicking

  • Mowgli restaurant in Nottingham's Lace Market 

Beloved by many, the High Street remains a British institution some would say. But there's no denying the last 18 months have been tough for retailers and the knock-on effect has been a raft of administrations and company voluntary arrangements. Associate Director Jack Ward takes a look at what this means for the East Midlands

A record number of shops disappeared from the UK’s top 500 high streets last year, according to PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC). While the greatest number of  net closures were in Greater London, the figures also showed that the net loss on high streets, retail parks and shopping centres is at its highest for 5 years across the East Midlands.

The highest net loss was found in Nottingham with -39 (23 openings and 62 closures), Derby fairing slightly better at -31 (37 openings and 68 closures) and Leicester outperforming both with only -7 (34 openings and 41 closures). 

So, does that mean it is all doom and gloom for Nottingham - a city that was once in the Top 10 Retail Destinations in the UK? Nottingham City Council vacancy survey data would suggest not. The vacancy rate fell from 14.4% in 2017 to 12.1% in 2018 when adjusted for units being held for redevelopment across the city (most notably at Broadmarsh Shopping Centre) - which is below the national average. 

The long-awaited refurbishment of the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre has started and when completed is predicted to propel Nottingham back into the Top 10 Retail Destinations. Alongside the redeveloped Broadmarsh Car Park and re-located library, the raft of new office and residential developments on Nottingham’s Southside should hopefully help to reinvigorate the city centre and push Nottingham back to where it belongs.

In the meantime, you only have to look at the success of the Nottingham Creative Quarter, and in particular Hockley and Sneinton Market to see that the High Street is still alive and kicking. Creative events such as the annual music and arts festival Hockley Hustle and an influx of new operators including Mowgli, Outpost Coffee, Bar Iberico and Neon Raptor Brewing Co have shown that if you have something unique and interesting to offer then the customers will come.

The independent sector is thriving in Nottingham and is what I believe to be a glimpse of what is to come for our city centres of the future.