This time of the year I normally produce my last post and look back at the activity on the blog during the calendar year. My reviews for 2020 and 2021 covered the two years with the most visitors the site has ever received. I assume this came both from lockdown and the pandemic and people having more time to browse, but also the release, work, consequences and debates around my report into the New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres for the Scottish Government.
My review of last year concluded with the wish that 2022 would be a Happy New Year, but for so many it has been anything but, with the war in Ukraine, the accelerating impacts of Brexit, the cost-of-living crisis and various economic and social woes.
2022 saw fewer visitors to the site than the record-breaking previous two years, but it was still the third highest year since I began in 2011. As with last year the top 10 posts contain only 4 new posts, again suggesting a longevity for some of the previous posts. The themes are broadly the same – this is not that unexpected given the topics covered – but some of the longer lasting posts do rather surprise me.
Looking at the top 10 or so posts, I can draw some categories out (last year we had Food Retailing Change, A New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres, Retail Change and The Outliers (or history?)):
Local Controversy – Stirling All at C
The number one post this year was on the decision by local councillors in Stirling to permit the development of an out of town Asda at Crookbridge. The original post was followed by another (#4) on the same topic and the hypocrisy I felt over the decision. My flounce out of the Stirling Town Centre Working Group as a consequence saw me on the front page of the local paper, probably had zero effect but did make me feel better.
I do have to say I felt somewhat vindicated when the decision was overturned in November and the project rejected/refused by the Scottish Government Minster on Call-in (and my post partially on that is #12 this year).
This theme of out of town development and retail strategy generally, town centres, planning (National Planning Framework 4) and the response to A New Future for Scotland’s Town Centres was a large part of the blog and posts on recent aspects of these come in as well at #11 (Retail Strategy for Scotland), #13 (the report of the Inquiry into Retail and Town Centres in Scotland) and #15 (Town Centre Action Plan 2).
Food Retailing Market Shares
For a good number of years I have been using Kantar data to consider the changing market shares of food retailers in Great Britain. Two posts, Grocery Market Shares in the UK 2020 and Twenty-One Years of UK Retail Grocery Market Share have been regulars in the most read posts each year. It is no different this year with them being placed #3 and #2 respectively (#1 and #4 last year). The annual updates in summer each year seem to do less well, especially since I switched from describing them as covering the UK to be the more accurate GB. This year the annual update does not feature in the top ten again, but another historical post from 2019 (UK Grocery Market Share 1997-2019) does (at #6). There seems to be an enduring interest in UK food retailing market shares and their change (probably mainly from students), and less interest in the accuracy of UK vs GB!
Two posts with an historical bias have also regularly featured in the top ten in any year and this year is no different. My review of a book London Welsh Dairies: The Welsh Milk Trade (#5) is of continuing interest and the discussion of Co-operative Tokens, Sports Direct and the Bristol Pound (#10) despite being an eclectic mix, continues to attract readers.
This year they have been joined (in #9 place) by another review, this time of the issues facing our places as their core department stores fall vacant and are subject to potential re-use and demolition. This “Place Vandalism” is both retail history and current town centre change and policy and the report by Save Britain’s Heritage is well worth reading.
This year’s outliers are on two very different subjects, with one being a very recent post and one from a while ago, but which got currency due to events. The recent post is on Who Owns Scotland’s retailing (#7), a summary of work by The Ferret and The Herald. The older post is on Checkout the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (#8), a post from 2020 looking forward to the June 2022 Platinum Jubilee and reflecting on the 25th Jubilee in 1977 and the moves by Tesco that redefined their strategy and took them to their #1 place in UK food retailing.
It just leaves me to wish everyone a Happy New Year, thank those that comment and contact me about the blog and specific posts and to yet again hope that 2023 is an improvement on what has gone on in 2022 in so many ways.