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Supporting local retail

At FOUR we have been discussing why we should be supporting local retailers with Chantry Place, and why it is more important now than ever before with the aftereffects of the Covid pandemic.

When the Covid measures were lifted, we were all hopeful that as a society we quickly learn how to live and prosper in a world with Covid-19. That meant businesses returning to normality and looking to the future, moving on from surviving today and making positive choices to invest in their products and their people. It also meant consumers developing their confidence again to socialise, shop in person and with friends, to eat out and attend events. We needed them to get back to their offices, perhaps not every day as we’ve all learned there are other ways of working, but back nonetheless to support our fine city, its businesses, and the thousands of jobs they provide, all while continuing to help keep people safe.

“Let’s have the confidence to get Norwich retail soaring again” says Chantry Place manager

The successful vaccination drives, the advances in medical care and that enduring human need to connect once again with people, means it’s time to get retail back to pre-pandemic levels and booming. Many of us are used to shopping online or ordering a takeaway but we need to support our physical businesses – the shops, theatres, restaurants, and attractions in Norwich and across Norfolk to support our local economy.  These bring vitality and vibrancy to our neighbourhoods and if we lose them, they won’t be coming back.

Things are looking positive for Norwich. Our County and City Councils continue to invest in public transport, active travel, and the public realm and, whilst there is short term disruption, it should lead to long term gain, and we await to see what the new owners of the former Debenhams and Topshop have planned.

Paul added that ‘demand for retail space remains high at Chantry Place and they have some exciting new additions to add to their retail and food mix this year. At the Centre, they are lucky to have a real mixture of big brands and small, independent businesses, many of which are at the heart of our local community.’  

What we need is for people to turn up to support all these businesses across the city, from shopping centres to independents, niche micro businesses to global brands.

Whilst there will inevitably be some retail closures this year, there always is as retailers battle each other for your custom, it feels that many people are turning away from screens and longing to shop in person once again, experiencing all the wonderful things that buying online can never offer – from smelling perfumes, feeling that fabric, getting taller in those new shoes, stopping for coffee and cake, soaking up the atmosphere and going home with your purchase!

Paul also added ‘My team continue to be amazing – always focusing on our customers and adapting to the challenges that come our way.  Planning how we do that has been a huge part of our continued success and this year part of our plan is to…

  • Know our customers better – we will be conducting research this year to refresh our understanding of our customers, as well as finding out what we can do better to ensure we remain a place for everyone in our community.
  • Support our retailers – our retail and food offerings are our strength and what makes Chantry Place such a wonderful destination in the city centre, with top brands including House of Fraser, Apple, Zara, Wagamama’s and many more. We work hard to support our retailers and will continue to build on the excellent relationships with them all.
  • Give people the confidence to visit and enjoy what we have to offer – we will continue to ensure that Chantry Place is a clean and safe place to be, with hand sanitisation stands at key points, frequent touchpoint cleaning and generally maintaining the high standards of cleanliness we always have.
  • Talk to our customers and attract new ones – we have built up a fantastic social community to whom we regularly talk. We will continue to use all the channels available to us to share news and listen to feedback.
  • Give people a reason to visit – new brands, great standards, national days, supporting community events, sharing positive news from our retailers: we will continue to work hard to get people to come to Chantry Place.
  • Create and deliver an incredible customer experience, every day.’

Paul has been frequently asked over the past five years or so whether he believes that retail and the days of Shopping Centres are over. His response remains that ‘retail is incredibly competitive and that benefits all of us, and, whilst some businesses and locations will fail, the best will continue to thrive.’

The team at Chantry Place also said we’re incredibly fortunate here in Norwich that our retail offer can truly be counted among the best and all set within one of the best cityscapes in the country. We’re sure that all the retailers in the city, alongside all the other commercial businesses and our amazing cultural offer, will keep on fighting on behalf of their customers, providing amazing products and experiences and so securing the tens of thousands of local jobs all within a city to be truly proud of.  Very fine indeed.