The retail body BCSC has today launched a report into small towns in the UK.
The BCSC is calling for a concerted effort on behalf of retail property developers and local authorities to exploit the unique attributes that smaller towns have to offer.
It used Dorchester, North Camp, Skelmersdale, West Bromwich, Northstowe and Sherford as case studies for the report.
It found the retail offer of medium and small towns has been in decline for the last 20 years and many are losing shops, services and footfall to larger regional centres and cities.
It found one strategy has been to target out-of-town food retailers – who continue to trade well - back into smaller town centres.
It also found smaller towns need to ‘create distinctiveness, taking advantage of their heritage features or natural surroundings and offering a diverse retail mix and wide range of uses.’
Jeremy Collins, BCSC President said: ‘The ability of small and medium sized towns to compete effectively with larger centres depends on a concerted cooperative effort between the private and public sectors.
‘Wider partnerships will be key to long term sustained growth. Developers will need to ensure that the size, tenant mix and environment of each scheme will pull spend away from other, larger centres and investors must offer the flexible financial packages that meet the needs of smaller specialist traders.’