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Shopping needs to become a social experience once again

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The days of the big weekly shop are in decline

The days of the big weekly shop are in decline

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The days of the big weekly shop are in decline

The last two years have seen more change in retail than in the last 20 years.

Retail's centre of gravity is shifting toward modern, consumer focused independent retailers who offer something different to the tired old multiple retail offering.

The days of the big weekly shop are in decline and consumers are now undertaking multiple shopping trips for groceries, putting new emphasis on convenience retailing.

Ask yourself this? Can anyone truly say they enjoy pushing a trolley around some soulless out-of-town big box with not even any social interaction at times?

The new vision for retail is an essential partner in radically new town centres, which not only have a wide choice of shops, but also boast a vibrant mix of hospitality, bars, restaurants and cafes.

To sum it all up, it is about putting the social into shopping and making our town centres and high streets fun places to visit and making the shopper want to return.

Out-of-town big box retailing belongs to the past and the future of retail is in town centres and high streets which are constantly adapting to what modern consumers demand.

The same is of course true for our charity shops, which make an important contribution to our high streets, and we will follow with interest these new Age NI shops develop under the leadership of Hugh Black, one of our leading local retail experts.

We need to see all of the main political parties recommit themselves to supporting this new vision of retail.

To do this, expanding the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme, continuing the five hours for £1 off street car parking discount scheme and introducing a belt and braces town centre first retail planning are all essential.

Glyn Roberts is chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association

Belfast Telegraph