Flogging a Dead Horse – The Collapse of City Centre Shopping

PAUL STAINTON: It doesn’t help I suppose that there’s a lot of empty shops in Queensgate at the moment. How far has footfall gone down do you think?

CHRISTINA WRIGHT SHOPKEEPER: I think it’s gone down by about a third. Although the trouble is they give you figures which suggest different. Because how they measure the footfall is, as you know, there are several entrances to Queensgate. Thay have infra-red sensors on the doors, and they measure it by mobile phone signals and all different manner of measurements that they use. Unfortunately, Queensgate, like many shopping centres in city centres is used as a commute. So people will go from one end of the shopping centre , use it as a cut through to get to the other side, to get to where they want to be. So they’ll get counted going in and out of an exit twice, when in fact they haven’t actually dwelled. So it’s the dwell time I think that needs to be worked on by these centres, in terms of keeping people at the centre for longer.
PAUL STAINTON: When you spoke to Queensgate about the level of empty shops as well, which obviously puts people off, what did they say to you then? Are they just waiting for Primark to open?
CHRISTINA WRIGHT SHOPKEEPER: Yes. That’s the main thing. We’re waiting for Primark to open. That’s going to be a big attraction. Stick with it, and all the rest of it. Well listen, if you want to subsidise my business by about £500 a week then I’ll stick with it. But if you can’t do that I can’t. .. Two things happened. Last September, when the kids went back to school from school holidays, it’s almost like someone switched the lights off in retail. Because noticeably, across the whole country, not just Peterborough, every shopping centre just went dead. It’s not really recovered from that. .. Even Starbucks, they’re closing 80 Starbucks stores up and down the country. If a coffee chain cuts costs and closes shops then you know that there’s an issue.