Retail returns

Both the Council and Bath’s Business Improvement District (BID) group have recently been publicising new business openings e.g. 

It’s certainly pleasing to see new retail businesses opening in the city centre, bringing a number of the premises that have been empty since the pandemic (or before that, in some cases) back into use. Having said that, the majority by far are cafes/restaurants and – with a few notable exceptions – of the takeaway or fast food variety. 

City centre residents will, no doubt, happily use these from time to time, but most of the newly opened food chains and franchises clearly target the daily tourist trade. Fortunately, we also have a number of excellent independent cafes and restaurants (including some newly opened ones) that are keen to build up their repeat business with offers to regular patrons – we encourage TARA members to support small, local businesses where feasible and plan to provide some TARA membership benefits that encourage the use of local independent businesses.

Getting the balance right  – from the residents’ perspective – between different types of retail businesses in the city centre is difficult, given how Bath’s retail economy is so heavily dependent on tourism. In particular, the challenges that the night time economy brings to residents living in the city centre is a familiar theme and one to which TARA will return during this year. When we have a newly elected council in place, we hope that there’ll be an opportunity to revisit many of these ongoing concerns and to bring some new ideas to bear.