Birmingham’s city centre High Street is for many visitors their first impression of the city. So what do shoppers think about it? Shahid Naqvi went in search of the word on the street.
Anyone walking down the High Street these days is likely to be struck by the number of cheap bargains on offer.
Shops with names such as the Factory Shop and Mad House advertise clothes for £6 or under. Others are even more blunt – there’s a shop called Three Pounds or Less and another named Priceless Shoes.
Of course, there’s still some of the big names on the street such as M&S, Waterstone’s, Boots and a Thorntons.
But the area looks increasingly dominated by the pound shops, mobile phone sellers and other functional, but not particularly attractive, shop fronts.
“You used to come up with your family and do your shopping and have a tea break,” said 61 year-old Mary Kelly, from Small Heath.
“It used to be a nice shopping centre. But now it’s not. These shops are just coming for a few weeks or so. The garments are diabolical and you get what you pay for.
“I think we have lost the community spirit because of the big shopping centre. The main culprit is the new Bullring.”
Louise Gallemore, a 20-year-old nursery nurse from Coventry, said the High Street needed more “upmarket shops”.
“There aren’t many nice shops and I just think it could be better. I work all week. I want to go somewhere with some nice shops. The Bullring is good but it is a bit hot in there. It is nice to come outside for a bit but the High Street is a bit cheap and tacky.
“If you go down to London and compare it to Birmingham which is the second city, it is a bit of a let down. I don’t know who controls the businesses in shops but I think they should keep all these pound shops in back alleys.”
Nyoka Scarlett, aged 32, a holistic therapist from Hampton-in-Arden in Solihull, who was shopping with her 14-year-old son Dan, said: “This is the first time I have been in town for two years.
“I don’t like to come particularly. It is negative because of the shops and the people it brings to these shops. We have only come here because my son wanted to get something specific otherwise I wouldn’t come here.
“I certainly wouldn’t allow him to come on his own. We normally go to London to shop. Even though it is a bigger scale it is a nicer feeling. It is less stressful, people are more accommodating. The whole underground service is really good.
“Birmingham is trying to be London but we can’t quite meet it.”
Jim Bradfield, aged 60, a solicitor’s clerk from Coventry, said: “I would expect a major shopping centre to have a bit more individuality. There is more choice here than in Coventry.
“The centre has been modernised from when I remember first coming here. I think it is actually quite welcoming. The type of shops are probably a response to demand. If demand was for more upmarket shops and fewer pound shops, then they would be there.
Andrew Frisk, aged 25, a financial consultant, described the High Street as “shop upon shop of which a lot of them are pretty much the same”.
“Pound shops and things like that I really anticipate them to be in cities not like Birmingham. It is meant to be the second city next to London.
“I would anticipate getting more established shops, like the ones you get in the Bullring.”