Fluid time for Kendal retail scene means innovative thinking will be vital for traders

Another week and another major potential retail development in unveiled which could affect the economic vibrancy of Kendal.

Last week administrators running K Village announced they wanted to relax planning conditions to allow more mainstream stores to operate there.

This week came news of developers Morbaine’s fresh application to bring Sainsbury’s supermarket to the Kendal Rugby Club ground at Shap Road.

Morbaine’s decision follows news that Tesco’s has abandoned plans to build its own supermarket as part of a proposed regeneration plan at Canal Head in the town.

Morbaine’s plan would create a 50,000sq ft store, which would not include non-retail space but would create up to 400 new jobs.

If approved, it could also allow the rugby club to finally realise its dream of moving to a new site at Strawberry Fields, off Oxenholme Road.

What all this would mean for existing traders is hard to judge.

It is arguable that Kendal has had out of town supermarkets for many years now and that another one would not hit town centre traders much harder.

That said, PR Books has just decided to close Henry Roberts’ Book Shop in Kendal, blaming competition from supermarkets and the internet for falling trade.

A Sainsbury’s at Shap Road would provide competition for Asda and, perhaps even more so, for nearby Morrisons.

Sainsbury’s must have done its sums and be still prepared to take the risk of taking on the existing stores.

These chains are giants in the world of retailing and know how to fight to maintain trade - indeed, local shoppers might benefit if a price war breaks out.

Overall, this is a very fluid time for the Kendal retail scene and all traders are going to have to work extra hard and use innovative thinking to ensure shoppers keep coming through their doors.

The introduction of Business Improvement District in Kendal next March is looking even more important to help maintain the economic health of the town centre and attract shoppers.


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