THIS year’s recession will be a tough test for the city but also a time for opportunities, according to Chester City Management.
The organisation believes 2009 will see a thorough examination of Chester’s established and newly arrived industries as the global economic downturn begins to grip.
As the financial services sector braces itself for a difficult trading year retail, tourism and service sectors also face a stern test.
However, while some businesses such as Woolworths fail, newcomers may bring diversity, such as the fashion chain Primark.
CCM co-ordinator Stephen Wundke explained: “There is no doubt retailing is going through a major adjustment.
“This is not due solely to the credit crunch but that has obviously speeded up the process.
“The internet has changed shopping forever and those who have failed to either invest in their staff to provide a better experience for their customer and thereby keep their trade, or to recognise their niche in the market and play to that strength, are now going the way of the dinosaur, right across the UK.
“Yes, we have empty shops in Chester, but so do other cities. Dolcis, Woolworths, Zavvi and others didn’t just pull out of Chester, they struggled everywhere.”
He added: “I have heard people say it was sad to lose Cochranes; I agree, but the reason they closed was because people weren’t shopping in men’s outfitters anymore.
“The opening of Slaters across the road must have had a dramatic effect on that business and this happens everywhere, new restaurants see off old ones, new bars, firms of solicitors, it is business.”
Mr Wundke believes the key to 2009 will be to get the city’s eight million visitors spending money in local shops and restaurants.
He said: “There is now a great understanding by retailers that the consumer is king. We expect a deal for our money and they, the retailers, are providing these special deals time and again.
He explained: “There will be a lot more on offer in 2009 as large and small retailers start working together more and integrating into the exciting programme we are launching.”
Chester City Centre Management has been shortlisted for an Associated Town Centre Management (ATCM) award in London on Thursday, March 26 alongside Leeds, Manchester, Maidstone and Plymouth.