Swansea needs big name store - report
SWANSEA needs a new big-hitting retailer to help tackle "pound shop" perceptions, a report into the health of the city centre has said.
The council report said the absence of an anchor store such as John Lewis, combined with tough trading conditions, has stymied the all-singing and dancing city centre regeneration proposed by FTSE 100 firm Hammerson.
Swansea lost its flagship David Evans store in 2005 but has a Debenhams and Marks & Spencer. But according to the report, the city needs a new big-hitter to anchor the St David's, Paxton Street and Parc Tawe redevelopment that has failed to materialise thus far.
It warned major retailers were currently only looking at new developments in London, the South East and the UK's "top 10 rated" cities.
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Speculation was rife last summer that John Lewis was interested in a new "home" store in Parc Tawe.
One Swansea shopper said in a survey that formed part of the council report: "Unfortunately, when I think of Swansea city centre I think of Poundland. When I think of Cardiff I think of John Lewis."
The report concluded there were grounds for optimism however.
Shoppers liked the service they received from city centre retailers, approved of the range of independent shops and generally felt streets were clean, although improvements and new green spaces would not go amiss. The work of the council and of business group Swansea BID, which has introduced schemes such as late night taxi marshals and funded chewing gum blitzing, was also praised.
But the report said footfall in Swansea had declined by nine per cent since September 2010 — more than the average for regional UK cities — with sales also down. Internet shopping, meanwhile, has increased markedly across the UK.