Make your high street smarter and less ‘shoppy’, retailers told

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Yesterday, during Jersey’s first ever retail summit, Mike Evans, managing director of the Retail Group, said that many places in the UK would be envious of the retail offering Jersey has, in particular its high number of independent shops.

He said that there is a perception in Jersey that other towns were better for shopping than St Helier, but most visitors to the Island feel that the opposite is actually true.

But he added that the Island is not ‘proud’ enough of its retail sector, which he said is ‘okay to good’ but ‘starting to lag’ behind other places.

Mr Evans, who has helped redevelop retail centres across the UK, outlined a number of areas where Jersey needs to improve to revive its retail offering. These include:

  • Broadening the shopping experience for customers by having alternative attractions on the high street.
  • Address being too ‘one-dimensional’ and ‘shoppy’, ie. not having enough alternative businesses, such as leisure and healthcare outlets, which are becoming more demanded on the high street.
  • A lack of signage and advertising at places such as the Airport for the Island’s shops, many of which are attractive because they are independent.
  • Shop fronts requiring investment and buildings in the high street looking ‘tatty’, as well as the best assets, including department stores, being ‘hidden’ and not prominent enough.
  • Retail performance data to be regularly produced every four to five years.
  • More events and markets to be held to increase footfall, as well as daytime and night-time experiences to be better integrated.

Mr Evans said that he believed the government would need to get involved to help improve Jersey’s retail offering.

‘The town centre management that you have at the moment works well but it is going to need much more support to be able to deliver even some of these,’ he said.

‘And then there are things that the States are going to need to deliver.’

Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham, who also spoke at the event, said that it would not be a ‘short-term fix’ to deliver the desired changes to Jersey’s retail sector.

He added that he felt the States could be more helpful by not introducing measures such as last year’s 20% corporation tax on large retailers and allowing more shops to trade on Sunday, should they wish.

The summit, which was organised by the Chamber of Commerce, also featured a speech by Helen Dickinson, chief executive of
the British Retail Consortium.

Jersey’s retail strategy, which aims to boost the sector as it contends with threats including online retail and additional taxes, is due to be launched at the end of the month.

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