SIR: Some additional facts in response to Richard Gibson’s letter in last week’s Chronicle October 28 [Do we need new shops in city?]:

1. Retail sales nationally ‘have fallen considerably’ he says. Not so. According to the British Retail Consortium/KPMG retail sales monitors, national non-food sales have increased by 4.9 per cent during the nine months to the end of September compared with the same period in 2019.

2. Based on our research, independent stores in the city centre reported a median increase in sales of 14 per cent over the past two years.

3. The Local Data Company [LDC] commented recently that independent stores are helping to ‘breathe new life’ into town centres. Nationally, there have been more ‘independent’ openings than closures in the first half of 2021, the best result since early 2017.

4. According to the Retail Gazette, the latest national High Street vacancy rate is 14.5 per cent. Winchester’s is rather lower at 10.1 per cent.

We do need new shops but as the LDC says ‘people have got bored with formulaic shop chains’. The future of the High Street depends, therefore, on the presence of a wider range of smaller outlets offering highly differentiated products and services that customers are able and willing to buy.

John Kind,

Author Winchester BID, Quarterly Business Barometer Report,

Christchurch Road,