It was 2011 when then-Prime Minister, David Cameron, instructed Mary Portas to conduct a review of the UK high streets.
In her report, Mary described her vision for the future of the UK’s high streets, talking about the need to breathe economic and community life back into the town and city centres. She recommended the need to get high streets running like businesses; getting the basics right to in order to allow businesses to flourish.
Nearly eight years on, many people feel that the problems that existed then still exist today, and are frustrated that simple changes that could have made a difference have not happened.
Sophie Mei Lan, who grew up in Pitsmoor, said: “I do think Sheffield’s city centre is lagging behind other big cities, but there are some really great independents popping up in the suburbs, from food in Pitsmoor, and antique shops like The Blind Mole in Kelham Island, to handmade produce, including the Makers shop on Abbeydale Road.”
As Sheffield faces the challenge of changing consumer habits, and work on the Heart of the City II gets underway, Sheffield BID is working hard to support retailers as they adapt to a new era for our city centre. The BID is a group of Sheffield businesses that work collectively to improve their environment, providing additional or improved services as identified and requested.
BID manager Diane Jarvis said: “With more people choosing to shop online, the city centre must evolve to offer more than just retail. The city centre must provide fantastic food and drink, leisure and entertainment options to help increase footfall. The more people in the city centre, the more through the doors of our independent businesses.”
The BID’s annual publication, Experience Sheffield City Centre: An Independent Guide, shines a light on each of the city’s unique districts – from shopping hubs at The Moor, student favourite the Devonshire Quarter, and the office-filled streets of the Cathedral Quarter, to the Cultural Industries Quarter and Castlegate.
The BID has also launched its Alive After Five strategy, which aims to invigorate the early evening economy and create a vibrant city centre, creating flagship campaigns, such as Dine Sheffield and Style Sheffield, with offers, deals and events available in the city centre after work.
Diane added: “By showcasing the city’s retail and food offer, including independents, these events encourage return visits and increased spend in the city’s shops, both independent and high street names. A number of independent eateries are currently taking part in the Dine Sheffield event, which runs until November 1.
“The BID also continues to encourage developers to build housing for young professionals in the city centre. Increasing city centre living increases the demand for shops, bars and restaurants.”