Manchester has emerged as the most improved major shopping centre in the UK, according to the latest Experian rankings.
The city has reversed its long-term decline and rocketed from 10th to fifth place in the table. Experian looked at not just the availability of main retail brands, but also other attractors, weighed against negative factors such as the number of vacancies or the number of charity shops.
The improvement in Manchester's fortunes is due in no small measure to the regeneration work that followed in the wake of the 1995 IRA bombing. The creation of Exchange Square - bordered by the Triangle, the Printworks, the Marks & Spencer and Selfridges stores, as well as the new Shambles West development, to be anchored later this year by Harvey Nichols - has transformed the attractiveness ranking of the city centre.
Another big winner over the past 12 months has been Basingstoke in Hampshire, which rose 109 places from 140th to 31st following the completion of Grosvenor's Festival Place Shopping Centre. Experian director Martin Davies said the arrival of 100,000 sq m of state-of-the-art retail facilities in what was a run-down 1970s shopping precinct has had a 'seismic impact'.
But although development can create attractions for shoppers, old habits die hard and London's West End remains the nation's number one shopping location. The country's top 10 shopping locations for this year are London's West End, Glasgow, Leeds, Nottingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Reading, Southampton, Norwich and Bluewater.
Kent mega-mall Bluewater became the first regional shopping centre to enter the top 10 of the national rankings.