Our Colchester

Our Colchester BID launches Retail Vision for Colchester City Centre.

Our Colchester BID launch Retail Vision, a dedicated document focused on supporting the retail sector in Colchester. 

In light of the seismic and accelerated changes affecting the national (and international) retail industry such as changing consumer behaviour, an increase in out-of-town retail locations, the speed and ease of online shopping and rising supply chain costs, the ‘Our Colchester Business Improvement District’ (BID) company commissioned Savills Place to carry out research into the changes needed to support retail businesses in the City Centre now and in the future.

The resulting Future of Retail report includes a review of the national trends being seen across many towns and cities, of existing demographics, strategies, funding, and plans that are already in place to support the City Centre’s development both short and long term. This was supplemented by bespoke Colchester specific research into footfall, dwell, spend and vacancy rates.

The report goes on to outline strategic principles that serve as a foundation for reasoning and decision making about the longer-term direction for the retail vision for Colchester City Centre along with a comprehensive action plan for their implementation.

Four key actions in the Retail Vision document will focus on supporting the retail sector and encouraging key stakeholders to take action for retail.

The four key focuses of the Retail Vision are:

  1. Getting the basics right. Supporting businesses to resolve the recruitment struggles faced by many in the sector. Tackling retail crime and perceived issues of safety in the City centre, making a welcoming space for all. Creating greater access including transport and wayfinding.
  2. Making retail fit for the future. Finding ways to utilise ‘empty space’ that mirrors today's consumers wants and needs.
  3. Environmental Experience. Social value, well-being and community are no longer secondary values. Creating a City centre which builds back greener, understanding that sustainability plays a role in consumers buying habits.
  4. Creative marketing, spreading the word about Colchester and celebrating its unique selling points that make this a destination like no other.

Sam Good, Our Colchester BID Manager commented "In my view it is a myth that retail is dead. It is true that nationally there has been an increase in vacant units. In Colchester we saw an increase from 9.85% in August 2022 to 10.11% in November 2022 however this is still under the national average of 13.7% and the East Anglian average of 13%. Many of our units have been vacant for over three years demonstrating the change in how people want to live, how they want to work and how they want to spend their leisure time which means there is huge opportunity to repurpose our city centre so we have a place that has longevity as the heart of Colchester. This research has enabled us to supplement our business plan and leisure strategy to ensure we are looking at long term success for businesses."