Town centres are at a turning point.
The recent closure of high profile brand names has sent shockwaves through the retail industry. It wasn’t seismic but it certainly registered.
In a way, it could provide an opportunity for town centres to re-assess what function they will serve as we move through the 21st century.
There is no doubt that the internet has changed shopping habits, just like e-mail and texting has changed communication mediums. But is online shopping really the future? I would like to think not.
Halifax Town Centre has much going for it, with a range of shops and a pleasant shopping experience. The smarter town centres will adapt and survive, whatever the internet shopping experience might have to offer.
I have noticed a few towns, with similar populations to ours, offering shopping loyalty discounts and even free car parking. We should recognise the positive points about our town centre; it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to be something else.
We should accept Halifax for what it is. Those are its strengths. It is major names that are going to the wall, not independent shops or those have built up a loyal customer base.
The lesson to be learnt is that a town centre only with big name chains is doomed; bigger cities in our region can take the hits, we can’t.
That’s why we are lucky to have some fantastic independent stores in the town centre.
Of course, we should be sad at the demise of Blockbuster, Comet and Jessops. But the wheel will turn full circle one day, when people realise that sitting at home to buy goods is not a good way to interact. When it does it will be the smarter town centres, the ones that adapted to survive, which will flourish.
I am sure Halifax Town centre will be a popular and thriving place for many years to come.