RETAIL in the ‘deep south’ is vibrant, despite the internet, bigger shops in Douglas and the economic squeeze.
That was the conclusion after a visit to traders in Port St Mary and Port Erin made by Department of Economic Development (DED) member Clare Christian MLC on Monday, February 7.
Laurence Skelly, member of the South West Regeneration Committee, explained the visit had come about after he learned at a regeneration meeting about a retail strategy DED is forming for the island.
‘I thought if DED has a remit for retail it would be useful to get a southern perspective,’ he said.
He, Mrs Christian and Michael Alliston, who is DED’s development manager for inward investment, retail and business support schemes, visited several traders and learned how their keys to success include diversification and offering good service.
‘I was surprised by the number of businesses and very interested to hear what their views are on the future of retail in connection with regeneration,’ said Mrs Christian. ‘They clearly have concerns that the centres remain very vibrant.’
They also discussed the support – mainly through training – that DED offers.
Mr Skelly said: ‘In Port Erin one shop is vacant, that’s a statement about how positive and vibrant retail is.
‘Retail in general is in a fairly fragile state. This was a good opportunity to talk independently to the retailers. It was an opportunity to look outside Douglas and beyond Tynwald Mills.
‘You always get the impression that Strand Street dominates, but experience in the south shows it’s all about service, if nothing else.’