Recent research published by the Local Data Company suggests that the East Midlands' capital has a retail vacancy rate of over 30% Here local agent Ben Tebbutt, director at FHP (formerly known as Fisher Hargreaves Procter) in Nottingham suggests headline figures may not give the whole story...
Talking about retail in Nottingham is getting like Groundhog Day.
Recession-hungry national media lap up a Local Data Company survey suggesting a third of shops in the city are empty.
Not for the first time, we point out it's based on an old map including distant corners of the city people don't shop in.
So what's the real picture? There are two, actually, and neither of them add up to the economic disaster movie LDC's statistics suggest.
At FHP we've been doing our own Retail Report for more than 15 years. Our surveyors walk the streets and check the reality against the records. Last year, we recorded an A1, A2 and A3 vacancy rate in the trading area of the city centre of 11.88%.
Our next Retail Report comes out later this month and we know already what the latest overall vacancy rate is. In the year when, according to LDC, all hell broke loose on the high street, it dropped to 11.67%. And in the last few weeks, Patisserie Valerie moved into one of Nottingham's most iconic locations, Hugo Boss announced a £1m spend on a new store, Cath Kidston opened, and Urban Outfitters, tReds, Thomas Sabo, Dr Martens, JoJo Maman Bebe and Foot Asylum are all on the way.
No disaster there, then...
One thing LDC may have been unaware of when looking at Nottingham, is something that
demonstrates the limits of statistics and the power of market knowledge. In the coming years, more than £900m is going to be invested in the local economy. Projects include a £600m expansion of the tram network; £150m dualling of the the A453, Nottingham's southern link with the M1; £60m developing a transport interchange. And another £60m developing a creative quarter around Eastside, the Lace Market and Hockley under the terms of the government's City Deal.
These are not CGi pipe dreams - they are signed-off projects with funding in place. This in a city economy which already has the fifth highest retail spend outside London.
Sure, we're all anxiously waiting to find out what will happen to Broadmarsh and the Victoria Centre, but I have a feeling we will not have to wait long.
But this is the real backdrop against which CSC will be investing - not the empty shops myth.
Do you agree with Ben? Click below to leave your comments...
For more up to the minute information on the East Midlands, read this Saturday's East Midlands Focus (13/10/2012).