But I understand that the BCSC put on an important conference this year. And a strong one. And I'm sorry I missed it. From the Twitter stream (such a bloody distraction, Twitter) there seemed to be so much going on, what with Portas and so on. All my friends were there. And one of the great things coming out of it all was the beginnings of a rather staunch defence of traditional town centres. Hurrah for that. All the more potent coming from a conference mainly given over to discussing built shopping centres and malls in single ownership. Perhaps there is a new understanding of how inter-connected all these things are.
As the brilliant Tim Garratt of Innes England observes "this news cuts both ways". He believes, quite rightly, that the retail in Nottingham should be firmly consolidated and, had the Victoria Centre been extended as proposed, then that would have pushed the retail offer too far north. Certainly, from any objective regeneration analysis, given the way that the Broadmarsh centre sits between the station and the traditional Nottingham city centre (for those who don't know it, it is a right old 1960s brute of a concrete box, incorporating the bus station, 43% vacant as it awaits redevelopment and pretty dysfunctional altogether) it would have been much more desirable to have got that developed first.
But it now looks as if Nottingham has two stalled schemes, which is a shame. Further to my recent blog (5 September) there are clearly too many shops in Nottingham and, but of course, too many shops leads inexorably to too many vacant shops. And, as was made clear at the BCSC, consumer spending is at 2002 levels and - and this is the crucial piece - it will never return to 2008 levels even when (if) the economy bounces back, partly due to the increase in online sales, but also because 85% of debt is secured on housing which is either in negative growth or is, at best, flat.
But I would urge that the new support of traditional city centres from the likes of the BCSC should be heeded. The delay on the extension to the Victoria Centre could be viewed as an opportunity for Nottingham. I've commented before on the potency of Team Nottingham. They have just merged their two Business Improvement Districts, which must assist with streamlining their offer. Nottingham is a stunning city, with a medieval street pattern to die for and some excellent public realm. Along with the global retail brands it offers, it should nurture its significant heritage offer and cultivate an element of surprise in its retail offer. It is a true traditional city centre with all the joy that that entails. People must pull together and confidence must be built. Nottingham needs to consolidate its centre of gravity, encourage independent local shops and promote excellent customer service. It will take imagination and vision. UKR stands pledged to assist.