Love Your High Street: How Leeds is bucking the trend with quality shopping
As thousands of shoppers headÂ to the shopsÂ to bag a post ChristmasÂ bargain it servesÂ as a timely reminder of how much we love our high streets.
For many years the sales have been as much of a festive tradition as the turkey and tinsel and despite the increase in online shopping, nothing beats coming home with bags galore.
Over recent weeks we have looked at the high street, how it has changed, what the challenges are for it and how we should support it.
In Leeds we are bucking the national trend, as where some towns and cities are struggling, we have one of the most booming retail sectors in the country which has been brought about by the Trinity Leeds and Victoria Gate developments over the last five years.
Andrew Cooper, the chief executive of the Leeds Business Improvement District, said: “In a challenging retail climate, Leeds is doing extremely well. We have seen over the last three years massive re-development with Victoria Gate and John Lewis and we are still seeing new stores like JD Sports.
“Trinity set the standard. It is a quality shopping centre but also architecturally and how it drops into the rest of the city and then we saw properties around it raise their game.
“Look at the Majestic, the Corn Exchange and the Merrion Centre, and Opera North is redeveloping. Our retail is increasing in the city and with these we are starting to see a knock-on effect of people investing.”
Shopping these days is also more of a leisure experience with people choosing to make a day or a weekend of it.
And Leeds has met the demand with a food and drink offer to suit all shoppers.
You could grab a coffee at one of the independent cafes such as Laynes Espresso or Mrs Atha’s, or head for street food at The Falafel Guys, Bundobust or Trinity Kitchen.
Then there are the trendy bars and restaurants such as The Ivy, Alchemist, Manahatta and Neighbourhood.
Recognising the importance of the whole package and also that retail and hospitality makes up for the city’s largest employment sector, Leeds has become one of the first places in the country to set up a retail and hospitality training centre.
Ambition manager Dianne Wainwright said: “We want to deliver the education and training by bringing businesses and education providers together so training is fit for purpose and meets the needs of the sector.
“Quite often I don’t think that people fully appreciate that retail and hospitality offers so many diverse careers opportunities. As a consumer you see a certain amount but there is a lot behind the scenes that is equally as important.”