Norwich named as one of the top 10 shopping destinations in the UK
Norwich has received a major boost in the run-up to Christmas after again being named as one of the top 10 shopping destinations in the UK.
It caps an exciting year for the city's retail scene, which has seen about �80 million of investment.
Key retail people in the city have said the success is due to its diverse mix of shops – which the Evening News is promoting with our Love Local campaign that supports independent retailers who play an important role in keeping Norwich unique.
Norwich is ninth in the latest VENUESCORE survey by retail experts the Javelin Group – above the likes of London's Oxford Street and Cardiff, and just behind places like Glasgow, Manchester and Edinburgh.
Norwich held on to last year's position of ninth and, in an additional boost, the study suggests the city is well-placed to rise further in the rankings. It said Norwich has a very dominant city centre with its unusually high concentration of shops being a major factor.
Peter Mitchell, managing director at Jarrold, said: 'In Norwich we have got very modern shopping malls and we have got a great range of independent shops and one-off stores you cannot find anywhere else. There is a great choice and it is all very accessible - we have one of the best park and ride services in the country.
'Being in the top 10 is a confirmation of the progress over the last five years or so in Norwich in terms of new stores coming in.
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'It is a healthy retail scene despite very tough economic times.'
Stefan Gurney, Norwich City Centre Partnership manger, said the VENUESCORE study reflected Norwich's very strong central retail sector, meaning when people shop in Norwich, everything they need is in the city centre.
He added: 'The VENUESCORE study reflects the level of retail offer in the city, the difference in offer, and the quality of offer.
'If you compare the types of cities in the list, we are there alongside much larger metropolitan cities. There is the likes of Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool, and for Norwich to be in there, too, it shows the quality of the draw we have - from the presence of high end shops in Chapelfield to the diversity in the Norwich Lanes, and the fact we are the only place outside the West End to have six department stores including an independent department store.'
Nick Bond, VisitNorwich's head of toursim, said: 'We are delighted Norwich remains in the top 10 of UK shopping venues and is predicted to move up the scale in the future.
'This year the city has relished in major investment recognising the city's potential for expansion and growth.
'This investment will further drive home the message Norwich is a great city to visit for shopping, whether you live in the East of England or further away, as well as being a great city for heritage, culture, local food produce and entertainment.'
About �80 million of investment has been ploughed into the city's retail scene this year - including multi-million pound investments at Marks and Spencer and John Lewis.
Andy Barber, manager of Norwich's Marks and Spencer, said: 'If you look at the make-up of the city, it has all the major players including ourselves, John Lewis, Debenhams and House of Fraser, and what I like about Norwich as well is its great independent offer including Jarrold and the small independent boutiques. There is a really good mix and there are more reasons now for customers to come to Norwich.
'I am finding that customers who have not been to Norwich for a long time are now making the journey to shop here.'
Richard Marks, general manager for John Lewis, in Norwich, which will officially launch its �7m refurbishment on Saturday, said: 'Being in the top 10 reflects the growth of Norwich in terms of shopping offer - lots of new shops have come to Norwich in the last 10 years or so and people travel from quite a large area to come to Norwich.
'It recognises the importance of the city within the region. Our own investment reflects our confidence in Norwich as a retail destination and I am delighted we are able to provide the best possible shopping environment.
'Norwich is unique in terms of so many major department stores and a significant independent sector.'
Norwich's shopping malls - which the VENUESCORE study said made up nearly a third of Norwich's retail scene - were similarly upbeat.
Davina Tanner, Chapelfield Shopping Centre's general manager, said: 'We are delighted the city has cemented its position within the top 10 shopping destinations in the UK.
'Norwich has incredible diversity as a shopping destination. We have large independents such as Jarrold and smaller specialist retailers sitting comfortably alongside prestigious department stores such as House of Fraser and contemporary brands such as Apple and Hollister Co. in Chapelfield.
'The fact Chapelfield is attracting more and more new brands such as [restaurants] YO! Sushi and ASK Italian demonstrates Norwich is a thriving and exciting shopping destination, appealing to visitors as well as local shoppers.'
Victoria Merrison, from The Mall Norwich, added: 'It's great news Norwich is still the ninth top shopping venue. It's another positive sign that retail in Norwich continues to stay strong in the current economic climate.'
Roger Pemberton, from Norwich Lanes, said: 'It is great to hear Norwich is consolidating itself in the top 10.
'It is a great testament to the diversity of the shops. It proves the new developments and the malls have complemented what was already there rather than threatening that. At Norwich Lanes we are thrilled to be part of Norwich's success. We urge everybody to keep supporting all aspects of the city to make sure Norwich continues to be a great destination.'
• Each year VENUESCORE ranks the UK's top 2,000 retail venues including town centres, stand-alone malls, retail warehouse parks and factory outlet centres. It compares key differences between shopping venues including scale of offer and market positioning.
For more information on this year's VENUESCORE study visit www.javelingroup.com/en/venuescore.aspx
• What do you think of Norwich's retail scene? Email email@example.com