The Birmingham shopping experience is at an all-time high and claims the Bullring would simply suck in existing retailers leaving the city centre scarred by empty shops have been proved wrong, a study of shopping trends has revealed.
The Gerald Eve 2004 Prime Retail guide to the UK and Ireland's leading high streets lavishes praise on the £530 million Bullring.
Birmingham is ranked the fourth best retail centre after London's West End, Dublin and Glasgow, with excellent prospects for further growth over the next five years.
The study also debunks the myth that the millions of shoppers who flock to the Bullring do not visit the rest of the city centre. Fewer than five per cent of customers said they went to the Bullring and nowhere else.
Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, welcomed the findings: "The research shows that far from turning the rest of the city centre into a ghost town, the Bullring has instead breathed life into the retail offer across the whole city."
The guide calculates that the Bullring increased the city's shopping population by almost 50 per cent and has been responsible for a significant improvement in Birmingham's image.
"Prior to the centre opening in September 2003, a whole host of retailers relocated from the city centre into the new scheme and various commentators forecast an almost doomsday scenario for the city centre proper."
Commenting on future prospects, the guide says: "Once derided for its stuttering awkwardness, Birmingham can now lay claim to having perhaps the most dynamic shopping centre in Europe as well as, in Selfridges, the single most eye-catching retail store in the UK and Ireland."