20 Oct 2016

Council report confirms sharp decline in Birkenhead's retail sector

A council commissioned report into the state of the retail sector in Wirral has confirmed what many of us already know; our shops in Birkenhead are struggling badly. And, the report clearly highlights the main reason why. Out of town developments have sucked business out of Birkenhead and badly damaged the town centre.

You can read the report here. The report to cabinet is here.

Key findings from the report include:
  • Compared with 2012, the market share of Birkenhead town centre has slumped from 28% to less than 17%.
  • The Croft Retail Park in Bromborough has overtaken Birkenhead as the main shopping destination in Wirral.
  • More and more retail expenditure is “leaking out” of Wirral as larger numbers of shoppers travel to Liverpool, Cheshire Oaks and Chester.
  • Retail rents in Birkenhead have fallen since 2008 and this decline is forecast to continue.
This report makes grim reading for Birkenhead. Moreover, the inevitable result of promoting out of town shopping is that our existing town centres suffer. Nowhere has suffered more than Birkenhead.

Astonishingly, we continue to make the same mistakes. Just a few months ago I wrote about the dire implications for New Ferry town centre when Labour and Tory councillors combined to vote through a new Aldi at Port Causeway.

We hear a lot about Labour's ambitious plans for Wirral Waters. For those plans to succeed we need a vibrant, thriving Birkenhead town centre. That was the clear message from Peel Holdings in a briefing to councillors earlier this week. It's high time Labour stopped talking about investing in Birkenhead and started acting. Otherwise we can look forward to more reports like this one in years to come.

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