High Streets dying – not in Nairn

July 31, 2009 · Filed Under shopping 

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Nairn High Street

Following on from a recent post about 15% of shops expected to be empty by the end of the year, the BBC continues to report on the issue by stating that 12,000 independent shops and nearly 7,000 branches of major chains have closed so far this year in England and Wales.

That’s a pretty high figure, and doesn’t even include Scotland.

And yet – I took a walk along the High Street in Nairn today and there’s no sign of doom as yet.

There were only two empty premises that I could see – and that includes the Sue Ryder shop, which is re-opening on August 7th after sorting out volunteer rotas.

The one remaining premise I can’t even find advertised as for sale or lease.

There are a couple of ticking timebombs, though – the old Woolworth’s building still does not have a long-term lease, and the new Lloyds Banking Group should be expected to close at least one of its branches in Nairn.

Even still, Nairn High Street is proving extremely resilient to closure so far, and as was recently reported, even a Sainsburys development is unlikely to cause significant damage to retail trade.

In fact, there is dire lack of commercial properties available in Nairn that I know some of the residential flats on the High Street are now being viewed as potential office space – not least because Somerfield currently owns 3 derelict buildings that multiple businesses are vying to set up in once returned to the Highland Council, and Balmakeith can only offer large manufacturing units.

It seems ironic that while the rest of the UK’s retail sector is suffering badly, Nairn seems to be thriving – at the very least, surviving.

Despite shoppers travelling out to existing retail developments around Inverness, Forres, and Elgin, it could well be that Nairn’s extremely limited retail space is actually working very much in its favour.

As the old business lesson points out, business runs on supply and demand – and at present, Nairn offers such a limited supply that even when demand is low, it seems enough to maintain a general well populated high street.


7 Responses to “High Streets dying – not in Nairn”

  1. Bill (Scotland) on August 1st, 2009 10:01 am

    Do we live in different towns? I do not think a Sue Ryder shop, however ‘worthy’ such an organisation may be, is any sign that the High Street is ‘flourishing’ or ‘healthy’. The opening of Sainsbury’s won’t damage the High Street much, in my view, because the greater part of most people’s weekly spend already occurs elsewhere; its benefit may be that people may no longer travel to Inverness/Forres/Elgin so their non-Sainsbury’s spend in Nairn might increase somewhat. As for the shortage of office premises resulting in possible conversion of residential apartments into business premises, one assumes this is not likely to increase shopper footfall there – so we are no longer talking about a thriving ‘high street’, but a business district – that may provide employment for a few people, which is good, but it does nothing for Nairn High Street as a place where people come to spend money.

    I am all in favour of not succumbing to doom and gloom, but I must say I found your article amazing. Or am I missing something?

    Best regards

  2. Brian Turner on August 1st, 2009 12:05 pm

    The point I was highlighting was the BBC report of 19,000+ shops closed just in England Wales over this year, and vacancy rates already being above 12% on average.

    And yet Nairn High Street has only one single vacant premises, and retail premises remain in demand.

    Despite the economic crisis, Nairn High Street is currently showing no real visible sign of it.

    That’s what I was trying to cover. :)

  3. Brian Turner on August 2nd, 2009 3:16 pm

    Culverwell have told me that the old Woolworths building is currently under offer – looks like we’re going to get a more permanent resident, though I don’t know whether it’s going to be Wild Day, or another company setting up.

  4. Gurnmeister on August 2nd, 2009 4:55 pm

    That will depend on planning permission then. For five ‘town houses’ crammed into the area that now makes up the store at the rear of the building. Details on the Gurn.

  5. Brian Turner on August 2nd, 2009 5:44 pm
  6. Paul on August 6th, 2009 12:45 pm

    Maybe it’s because Nairn High street is different from many big towns and cities that all look the same these days, so it offers something different. Along with Forres, I find it refreshing to see small and different shops. Long may they survive.

  7. Brian Turner on August 6th, 2009 3:53 pm

    Was in Inverness today – take a look down any street from the main street, and it’s filled with To Let signs.