The 2023 Jersey Retail Survey has just been completed by 4insight on behalf of the Government of Jersey. This report follows on from the 2018 survey and in brief, nothing has changed. The findings state that the Jersey populace still want the following:
• Larger Brands/retail stores
• Opening times to reflect working hours/Sunday opening
• More parking
• Better value for money and choice.
Unfortunately, the 2023 report does not provide a conclusion or insights into how this will be achieved. Something we assumed would be the key objective of the report. Our Commercial Director, Nick Trower has outlined his thoughts on the “findings” above and possible solutions:
Larger Brands/retail stores:
We are limited by geography and quality of buildings in a finite space.
There are issues with operators obtaining licences to trade and issues around employment of staff. Much of which means operators usually put Jersey in the “too difficult to deal with now” pile.
We won’t even bother getting into the GOJ planning department side of things.
Opening times to reflect working hours/Sunday opening:
Steps have been taking by the Government to rectify this and make town more accessible outside of standard office hours. If the Government of Jersey/Parish of St. Helier can provide more events and reasons for people to enter St. Helier outside of typical opening hours, it will draw more people in.
E.g. televising of sporting events, more events for children, etc.
As above. There are enough sporting events for outdoor screenings to become more common in St. Helier, allowing the positive knock on effects for neighbouring businesses.
More live music.
More children’s events as this will have knock on effects on retail and food and beverage operators. The Parish of St. Helier really need to lead on this but provide longer term solutions rather than 1 weekend every 2 months.
Potentially pop-up play areas and fun things for children to do which means trips into town for them and their parents.
In my humble opinion, the central market needs to be a main driver for this. It’s screaming out to be used like Time Out in Lisbon, Spitalfields or Borough Market in London, etc. The Government need to put this at the top of their agenda – remove outdated users and bring more local producers, cafes, bars, restaurants into the market and create an amazing atmosphere with music and other performers.
This goes against planning policy and is not so simple. There is a lot of parking provision already and focus may need to shift to alternative forms of transport.
E.g. we have good bus services and plenty of cycle facilities.
Most retailers selling larger items will offer delivery services so transporting goods is not an excuse.
Better value for money and choice:
This is a very difficult one. We are on an island with a limited population so the majority of the offering is going to be towards the average/median user and day to day items as these will most likely sell. Jersey will never be able to provide everything for everyone. It’s also a bit chicken and egg, shop more and there will be more provision or more provision to get people to shop more – which one comes first?
My thoughts are that the Government of Jersey and the Parish of St. Helier need to work harder to stimulate the retail economy. This can be via a number of factors but foremost is to make the experience of coming into St. Helier welcoming. This includes making the town look vibrant, undertaking the works to streets like Halkett Street and New Street (that have been promised for over 10 years).
Give the populace more excuses to come into St. Helier by putting on more events, for longer periods of time. Use world sporting events and art installations as a kick start – it will have a knock on benefit for all occupiers and traders in St. Helier. I personally think the Tortoise trail (and previously the gorilla one) have been amazing for getting people out and about.
In my opinion, you cannot replace or fight against online shopping. You have to embrace it and work with what is in your power. There will always be things that are cheaper online or that are not available here so you have to go online. More retailers are offering click and collect which is beneficial. There should be focus on making what is available and the experience more enticing so that we maximise what is available here.