Shopping will ‘remain critical’ to city centre, expert predicts

Glasgow City Council recently announced plans to regenerate the ‘Golden Z’ shopping streets.

Shopping will ‘remain critical’ to Glasgow city centre, expert predicts iStock

Shopping will remain “a critical part of the mix” in Glasgow city centre as plans to revamp key streets progress, a property expert has predicted.

Glasgow City Council recently announced plans to regenerate the ‘Golden Z’ — the main retail streets of Argyle, Buchanan and Sauchiehall streets.

Changes in the sector, including the rise in online shopping, were exacerbated by the covid pandemic, with a number of closures leading to vacant properties.

The council’s proposals include increasing the population, with a target of 1,350 flats, and it hopes to make the city centre “more resilient, diverse and green in the future”.

A report highlighted the importance of quality retail premises complemented by “a greater mix of restaurant, cafe, bar and leisure uses”.

Louise Norris, a city-based commercial property partner at legal firm Lindsays, believes the ‘Golden Z’ vision can enhance the shopping experience, providing opportunities for retailers.

She said: “A more vibrant city centre — with improved cultural attractions, nicer public spaces, thriving bars and restaurants — is good news for retail.

“This is a prime time for both retailers and retail investors to be considering how they can be a part of the future here. There is real interest in what’s happening, with shopping remaining a critical part of the mix.”

It is expected major redevelopment plans for Buchanan Galleries and the St Enoch Centre, currently being worked on by their owners, will contribute to the regeneration of the city centre.

New public spaces could be created at Buchanan Galleries, with the Sauchiehall Street section of the centre removed, and hundreds of homes and a hotel are planned on the St Enoch Centre site.

Ms Norris, who advises a range of property owners and investors, said: “We all know that the way we shop has changed. When we go into city centres it’s no longer just about shopping. 

“It’s about the experience of the overall trip — the other things we do while we are there. That means the space demands of retailers are changing. 

“Evolution, though, can bring success, just in a different way. The Golden Z vision recognises that. Realising it will mean working with many property owners.”

The lawyer added that recent discussions at the Revo Conference in London, which was attended by delegates from big retail firms, were “really positive” about Glasgow.

“Maintaining a physical presence for retail remains important. That’s still a big part of our economy,” she said. “I am increasingly confident that the greater destination appeal and enhanced experiences in Glasgow will fuel a stronger future for retail.”

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