Dear Editor, It is a shame reading about the current lettings plight of Great Western Arcade (Post 13th April) with the economic climate being mostly to blame, but with this particular part of the city centre it is nothing new. I’ve noticed a severe downturn in footfall in many areas around central Birmingham ever since September 2004 to be exact. This was when the new Bullring opened.
Of course, it is wonderful to be the home of such a popular shopping mall, which welcomes more than 38 million people a year, more than any other retail centre in the UK, but the problem lies in the failure to ensure shoppers are aware that the rest of the city centre also has plenty of street shops too.
I have heard there are UK visitors whose only knowledge of our city is of the inside of the Bullring and the underground car park! What Great Western Arcade would do with 10% of Bullring’s shoppers traipsing down their lovely collonade?
A lovely way to enter the city centre is to emerge from Snow Hill station to be confronted with Colmore Row. A glance left and you see modern glazed office blocks, while peering to the right and you could be in Paris, but directly opposite lies an inconspicuous entrance to Great Western Arcade, that is often overlooked and missed. Shouldn’t there be better advertising at this end?
I also cringe about the massaged figures of Birmingham’s standing in the “Best shopping experience outside of London” chart, because this appears to be the result of two shopping malls being opened since 2000.
I would much rather all of the city centre had a healthy retail sector, with shoppers being able to browse all the way from Upper Corporation Street to John Bright Street, where the potential for an independent hive, and farmers’ market is massive now.
Let’s hope for a quick upturn in the retail market and see this city stretch out from St Martin’s!
Ian Wood, Birmingham