SMART new shops at Northgate and Horton Street could be the key to helping Halifax expand.
According to the National Survey of Local Shopping Patterns, in towns where improvements fail to occur or there is an actual decline in quality shopping, market share tends to decline.
More than 95,000 shoppers regularly visit Halifax but the survey estimates that there are just under 1.5 million people in the catchment area bordered by Leeds, Rochdale and Oldham.
Halifax attracts just 6.4 per cent of the population.
Councillors are due to consider plans for a huge new shopping centre with 500 parking places at Horton Street next month and they have agreed to demolish the civic offices at Northgate to make way for retail development – a site which could also incorporate the central library and archives.
The shopping survey says: “Shopping destinations are likely to increase in popularity if the retail offer is improved through new development or the addition of leading brands.”
“Towns with development are diverting trade from towns without; however, this is more of a diversion from old shopping stock to new, and from small space to big, rather than a diversion from town centre to out-of-town retail destinations.”
Leeds city centre, Huddersfield, Bradford and the White Rose centre in Leeds are identified as the main threats to Halifax.
The council’s economy and environment spokesman, Coun Barry Collins, said: “This report underlines the urgent need for us to develop the Northgate site if Halifax is to remain a thriving town.
“Unless we make it possible for big-name retailers to locate here by providing large enough sites, other towns and cities will attract shoppers away from Halifax.”