Poor transport links accelerating decline of North West high streets, report finds

Liverpool law firm Brabners, which has published the research, is calling for a fairer approach to transport infrastructure spending by the Government. Tony McDonough reports

Shop, retail
North West retailers are suffering due to poor transport infrastructure


Lack of investment in transport infrastructure is accelerating the decline of retail hubs across the North West, a new report claims.

Liverpool law firm Brabners, which has published the research, is calling for a fairer approach to transport infrastructure spending by the Government which it claims is still heavily weighted towards London and the South East.

Stark divide

Its Regional Retail Index, created as part of its Retail Manifesto, discovered a stark north/south divide in how the retail environments in different regions of the UK are faring, caused in part by poor transport infrastructure in the north of the country.

The research ranked regions of the UK on key factors such as quality of public transport, business survival rates and commercial property prices to identify the most hospitable parts of the country for retail. The North West, North East and East Midlands were the worst performing regions.

London and the south of England outscored the north in part because they had better availability of transport links, making it easier for consumers to travel to key retail hubs.

According to the Institute of Public Policy Research, London will receive transport infrastructure investment from the government worth £4,155 per person in 2019 – 2.6 times more per head than the North.

Economic benefits

Richard Roberts, head of retail at Brabners, said: “Most people associate good transport infrastructure with broad economic benefits but don’t always make a direct link to the impact it can have on our retail centres.

“Certain shopping areas, whether in city centres or out of town, are doing much better than others and it’s disproportionately in the north of England where we find the ones that are struggling.

Shop, retail, bakery
Brabners is calling for a fairer approach to transport spending to help retailers


“London will always receive more funding than the rest of the UK as long as its economic output is greater. But our research shows that the quality of transport infrastructure has a major bearing on the vitality of retail hubs in any given area.

“By introducing a fairer system where we distribute public funds per head, we can help to level the playing field for those retailers who want to maintain a physical presence and provide a boost to parts of the country that have in recent years been hit hard by public spending cuts.”

The Retail Manifesto also includes a survey of decision-makers at 400 UK retailers, 40% of whom said they expect their profits to stay flat or fall over the next three years. Among them, losing business to an online competitor (25%) is the most commonly cited reason for this negative outlook.

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