Journalists from the local press have been in touch this week – Sainsbury’s in Grosvenor Shopping has announced it is set to close and Tesco’s on Abington Street is set to move to smaller premises within the town centre. Mark Mullen, BID Operations Manager for Northampton town centre BID, has reflected on these current challenges:
“How to manage and address closing businesses, vacant units and the challenges of COVID are questions being asked up and down the country by all town and city centres. Because this pandemic is so new to us all and the situation is changing so rapidly it is impossible to try to predict the future for any town or city centre. some of the trends which had started prior to COVID have simply accelerated, such as the increase of shopping on-line and the desire to use town centres for things other than simply ‘shopping’.
“What we can say is that we are – working with our partners through the Northampton Taskforce Group and Northampton Forward – continuing to look to the future. We continue to plan and while we can’t predict with any accuracy what may happen next in Northampton town centre we can give a view. Through pfbb UK who manage Northampton BID and develop BIDs across the UK we are aware that many other town and city centres are facing the same challenges but also seeing the same opportunities as those in Northampton.
A factor of the early lockdown in restricting people’s movements has meant that people who used to travel further afield are now more likely to support and visit their local town centre. We are also hearing – although the data is to be verified – that there are changing patterns of expenditure. People, who previously travelled further afield, are now choosing to spend in their local town centre. Town centres are increasingly becoming hubs for the community of everyone who lives in and around the town, as people choose to stay local and this is an opportunity for Northampton.
“The BID’s role is to continue supporting businesses and to encourage people to support Northampton town centre with a variety of initiatives, which more recently includes two police officers, funded by the BID who will take to our town centre streets as of next week providing support for businesses, with a focus on tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.“