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Retail Toolkit


Successful town centres - developing effective strategies 

Successful town centres and developing effective strategies is at the heart of a unique and innovative toolkit designed to breathe fresh life into the UK’s town centres and high streets.

The toolkit is a result of the work of GFirst’s Retail Sector Group with the Association of Town & City Management (ATCM) and other partners, supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Feeding into the Government-backed retail Pathfinder initiative, the toolkit is a breakthrough to reinvigorate the economy of our high streets by identifying the strengths of a place, what type of retail centre it is and how positive action can be taken to improve the retail offer. 

Offering a series of planning tools to empower retailers, communities and local planners to take action and ensure their town centre meets the changing demands of local residents and businesses, and the new 24 hour economy, the toolkit is designed to be used by those who understand their area the best: the local community. For this reason, it is more than just about retail, it is a joined-up planning tool for the private, public, voluntary and business communities.

We’re delighted to announce that Cirencester is the first town in the UK to use the toolkit and make its town centre even more successful by taking the first steps to identify their own unique personality to form positive and decisive action plans.The Town Team in Cirencester is taking a joined up approach to ensure that the town retains and capitalises on its own unique identity which attracts so many visitors already.  We would urge more Town Teams across the county to form and use the free toolkit which includes:

A town centre classification matrix linked to a ‘personality test’ – every town centre can be classified as one of four main ‘personality types’, based on what they do and the perceptions of their visitors: community-focused entrepreneurs; sustainable destinations; specialists; or global celebrities. The classification system helps retail communities better understand their town centre and informs future vision and plans for revival.

A new type of national performance framework for town centres – this enables better monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of a town centre. It focuses on themes such as footfall, vitality, consumer perceptions and economic characteristics. It also takes into account local, regional, national and global trends which impact on a town centre’s performance.

A town centre performance toolkit – this allows a monitoring and evaluation system to be put in place for any town centre to check progress towards its vision for the future.  It is a ground-breaking way of demystifying town centre performance indicators and showing how to get the most out of them.

The toolkit also includes a set of exemplars, applying the tools to ten English towns across the four town centre ‘personality types’. 

The free toolkit is available for download below. If you would like any advice or queries relating to the toolkit, please contact us.

Click here for details of Government's billion pound package of support for the UK’s high streets.