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1999 main findings with selected extracts.......

1.    Between 1993/4 and 1997/8 trading conditions were very difficult for town centre businesses in most areas of the country despite the improvement in the national economy. Data from over 3,000 stores in 250 locations indicated that overall only 33% had sales growth above inflation and 32% had lower takings in 1997/8 than in 1993/4.

2.    There were signs in 1997/8 that trading conditions were easing, however retail trends since then indicate that this may have been a temporary phenomenon.

3.    Stores in major out-of-town (OOT) shopping centres took trade away from other centres and out-performed them by a very large margin.  58% of centres suveyed reported that trade was being lost to OOT centres and people were travelling up to 90 miles to visit them (Map of catchments of 10 regional OOT centres on page 12).  Data from stores in 5 major OOT centres showed that 73% of stores had growth above inflation and only 9% were affected by declining takings.

4.    Stores affected by continuing decline in takings are vulnerable and it is likely to be only a matter of time before some companies downsize or extricate themselves from uneconomic locations.

5.    In many locations Town Centre Management (TCM) Schemes were responding well to difficult trading conditions and panels of local business people agreed that they were making a significant difference to the quality and competitiveness of town centres.

6.   Comparison of the characteristics of TCM centres with non-TCM centres showed that TCM centres achieved better quality standards in virtually every aspect of centre management but particularly in Christmas promotional activity, CCTV provision and quality of street environment.  There was little difference in the quality & character of buildings, car access, parking or late shopping but it was noteworthy that as a group TCM centres were disadvantaged by a higher proportion being affected by high unemployment and more reporting trade damaged by competition from OOT shopping.

7.    Examination of TCM centres showed a strong correlation between high standards of management and strong store performance.   Better store trading performance is linked with the achievement of good standards in a range of factors rather than good performance in just a few.  The following factors were linked with strong store performance:    
                 -  Presence of departmental stores.   
                 -  Quality, character and condition of buildings.   
                 -  Improvement in the quality of the street environment.    
                 -  Town advertising and promotion.   
                 -  Sunday shopping.    
                 -  Quality of car parking management (assessed under 7 headings).

The following were linked with poor store performance:    
                 -  Pay and display, voucher or disc systems of parking control.   
                 -  Poor management of street works.   
                 -  Higher levels of unemployment (above 5%).

8.   Inadequate funding limited the effectiveness of three quarters of TCM programmes and this is a major issue for many schemes.

9.   Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are needed in order to monitor progress and periodically check whether the TCM scheme is focused on key issues which affect the experience of consumers using the centre.

Click to see list of suggested KPIs.

Click to return to 1999 report introduction.