Despite the negative reports in the local press recently about shop closures in the central area, the people of Carlisle should really be feeling more upbeat about the retail offer in the city. Whilst I appreciate there have been casualties with the demise of Woolworths, Past Times and Goldsmiths, we have seen attractive newcomers to the High Street. Carigiet Cowen have recently let units to Hotter Shoes and Stormfront, the primary Apple franchise, sitting alongside contemporary fashion retailer White Stuff. These retailers have brought a new variety of goods to the city centre, and with the help of their landlords vastly improved the appearance of the retail frontages. National confidence in the city is also shown by the substantial refurbishment of Top Shop and the House of Fraser store, which has incorporated Caffé Nero at ground floor.

Nothing stands still in retail, which must constantly adapt to customer requirements, and perhaps the companies that have departed the high street did not alter their product range to meet changing demands. We must not forget local success stores too with Tony and Elaine Bell of Alternative having confidence to move to a more central location and adapt their product range to suit new more discerning customers. In addition, Anthony Irving of Country House has recently undertaken a big expansion into the former Village Nightclub premises on Lonsdale Street.

Unlike many north west towns, there are retailers keen to gain representation into Carlisle subject to suitable space being provided including Primark, Paperchase and Sugarcane.

So, come on Carlisle, let's see the positive in the city going forward in 2012.

Margaret Bushnell
Retail Director
Carigiet Cowen