Retail centres

A general definition of retailing is the sale of goods or commodities in small quantities directly to consumers (as opposed to wholesaler or supplier who usually sells to another business).

This article identifies major shopping locations in the county and lists the accompanying websites. The sites include purpose-built shopping malls, retail parks or factory outlets, and therefore does not include the retailers in the traditional high street locations. It is not an exhaustive list of retail locations, but we have included many that have their own websites. There also a few others listed with no known websites, but which are of a reasonable size and therefore are mentioned.

The retail landscape of the county is constantly changing. Businesses both large and small, new and well-established come and go, whilst various shopping locations undergo expansion or redevelopment. There are the challenges of competition both within Lancashire and from outside the county, plus the added factor of internet shopping that takes an important share of the market.

There was a time when the shopping experience belonged exclusively on the high street, but now there are no boundaries. The growth of online shopping has changed everything. Cities, towns, villages, shopping centres, retail parks, transport hubs, farm shops/rural visitor locations and leisure parks all compete for their share of consumer spend with the wide range of multi-channel TV and online options. 

The land-use planning system puts uses of land and buildings into various classifications known as 'Use Classes'. The web link identifies the various classes that are applicable to this particular article. 

1. Major shopping locations in Lancashire  

The table reveals the names and locations of major shopping locations in Lancashire. Many are retail centres that occupy prime town-centre locations. It also highlights out-of-town or out-of-centre locations such as Deepdale Shopping Park in north Preston and the Peel Centre, Hyndburn which is just outside Blackburn. There are also other sites e.g., in Oswaldtwistle and on the outskirts of Chorley, that utilise large former mills as  locations that blur the distinction between places to shop and sites to visit for leisure purposes.

1.1 Retail centres in Lancashire

Shopping centres/malls, markets and major shopping parks Mill shop/outlet stores/village  Markets
The Mall, Blackburn Affinity Outlet Lancashire (former Freeport Fleetwood), Wyre Accrington Market
Hounds Hill Shopping Centre, Blackpool Botany Bay, near Chorley Bacup, Haslingden and Rawtenstall markets
Blackpool Retail Park Bygone Times, Eccleston near Chorley Blackburn market
The Fishergate Centre, Preston Oswaldtwistle Mills Burnley market
St Georges Shopping Centre. Preston Boundary Mills, Colne Chorley market
St. John's Centre, Preston Pendle Villages/Junction 12 Outlet/Barden Mill, Brierfield, Nelson Clitheroe market
Deepdale Shopping Park, north Preston   Darwen market
Fulwood Central, Preston   Festival market, Morecambe
Riversway Retail Park, Preston   Fleetwood market
Lancaster Leisure Park   Great Harwood market
St Nicholas Arcades, Lancaster   Leyland market
Marketgate, Lancaster   Ormskirk market
Arndale Centre, Morecambe   Nelson market and Colne market
Sunnycliff retail park near Morecambe   Preston market 
Charter Walk Centre, Burnley    Garstang market (Street market - Thursdays only)
Arndale Centre, Accrington    
The Peel Centre, Hyndburn (Whitebirk Retail Park)    
Pendle Rise Shopping Centre, Nelson    
North Valley Retail Park, Colne    
Market Walk Centre, Chorley    
Capitol Centre Retail Park, South Ribble    
Churchill Way Retail Park, Leyland    
The Concourse, Skelmersdale, West Lancashire    
Teanlowe Centre. Poulton-le-Fylde, Wyre    

The availability of large former mill sites for conversion to retail use, the county's long-standing association with textiles, and a motorway network that gives easy access to particular locations means that Lancashire has some strengths in mill shops/outlet stores that attract visitors from beyond the county boundary.

The visit Lancashire website has additional information that includes details of farmers markets.  

2. Other retail sites and shop locations in Lancashire

2.1 Transport hubs   

A variety of large and small-scale transport hubs have been developed to include retail content. Major airports have invested heavily in retail space, whilst large railway stations can attract rail and non-rail users to use the shops, restaurants, cafes and bars for meetings, to purchase goods and to socialise. In Lancashire, the emphasis is on small-scale transport-related locations such as petrol stations. The Blackburn based businesses E G Group (Euro Garages) and Kay Group own a number of sites in the Lancashire area that combine petrol forecourts with accompanying retail space that target both passing drivers and the local community. A modern petrol station forecourt is no longer just about purchasing fuel but delivering a broad retail convenience offer.

E G Group has the Rivington Motorway Services as part of its portfolio, whilst Charnock Richard, and Lancaster, northbound and southbound, are the other service stations in the county that are only accessible via the motorway network. 

2.2 Locations of charity shops, betting shops and Food Outlets

The charity retail association represents the interests of charity retailers. The website has a 'find a charity shop' facility that can be searched by place name or postcode. Charity shops can trade in 'bought-in' goods, but must sell mainly donated second-hand items in order to retain their "charitable purpose" status. The number of charity shops has grown over the years as charities seek to increase revenues. Nowadays, they have a permanent presence on the high-street and reduce the number of vacant premises. They also help to avoid items being discarded and sent to landfill.

The government's gambling commission website contains a gambling premises search page . Betting shops represent the most common type of premises and the list can be sorted by local authority name to quickly view details of the individual establishments in the 14 Lancashire authorities. In 2022 there were around 245 licensed premises in the Lancashire-14 area.

The government's Food Standards Agency website details food hygiene ratings for restaurants, takeaways, food shops and others not open to the general public such as public/private-sector establishments that serve food to their staff/clients. The results are available by local authority boundaries, thereby allowing users to view the details for each of the 14 authorities in the broader Lancashire area. In December 2019, the website listed 12,978 entries for sites in the 14-authority Lancashire area. Not all of course are open to the general public, but the number does emphasise their important role within today's retail landscape.

3. Improving the High Street 

3.1 Business improvement districts in Lancashire

Business improvement districts (BIDs) are specified areas within which businesses pay an additional tax/levy in order to fund projects within the district's boundary.  In Lancashire, examples of these improvement districts cover a number of the core urban centres with high concentrations of retail employment and premises. The Lancashire BIDs update their own websites, and each has its own specific content that is relevant to the local retail sector.  

  • The Blackburn Business Improvement District website provides up-to-date information on new retail and other developments in the core urban centre. It also has a 'find a business section' that highlights a large number of retailers in the town centre
  • The Blackpool BID website has a business directory and monthly visitor economy performance reports. They include figures on footfall, resort pass sales, car park ticket sales, plus tram passenger numbers etc. There is also a retail performance section that looks at monthly changes for over 30 participating businesses.
  • The Lancaster BID emphasises the strong events and cultural offer in the core town centre.
  • The Preston BID website highlights a range of marketing initiatives for the area.  

3.2 Place programmes

Business in the Community have have extended the 'Place' programme, (previously named 'Pride of Place'), having used the lessons learned from the healthy high streets’ programme which finished in 2017.

3.3 Future High Streets Fund

On the 30 December 2019, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) announced the first 14 of 20 pilot areas that will receive expert tailored support from the High Streets Task Force. These were in addition to the areas announced earlier in 2019 that will benefit from the £1 billion allocated to the Future High Streets Fund. Initially, each town will receive up to £150,000 to develop project proposals, with up to £25 million of funding being subsequently available for each successful shortlisted high street. Accrington Town Centre (Hyndburn) and Friargate (Preston) were listed amongst the first 14 pilot areas. 

The MHCLG published the original shortlist of 50 town centres eligible for the Future High Street Fund in July 2019. The list included Chorley, Morecambe (Lancaster), Nelson (Pendle) and Fleetwood (Wyre). The MHCLG published a second tranche of 50 towns that would benefit from the Future High Streets Fund in August 2019. This list included Bacup town centre (Rossendale), Chorley, Fleetwood (Wyre), Kirkham town centre (Fylde), Morecambe (Lancaster) and Nelson (Pendle) in the Lancashire-12 area, plus Blackpool in the wider Lancashire-14 area.

In May 2019, Historic England launched the High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme. The initiative is funded from the Future High Streets Fund (£52 million), the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (£40 million) and the National Lottery Heritage Fund (£3 million). 69 high streets across England have been selected to receive a share of the £95 million fund. These include Burnley, Lancaster, Ormskirk (West Lancashire), Bacup (Rossendale), Blackpool, Fleetwood (Wyre) and Kirkham (Fylde). A Cultural Programme will take place on each of the 69 high streets in conjunction with the High Streets Heritage Action Zones scheme.

The Future High Streets Fund can be used to improve transport and access into town centres, convert empty retail units into new homes and workplaces, and invest in vital infrastructure. The fund aims to help high streets to evolve and adapt and remain vibrant places for their communities.

The Future High Streets Fund is part of the larger £3.6 billion Towns Fund, announced in July 2019 (formerly the Stronger Towns Fund, announced in March 2019, now combined with the Future High Streets Fund, announced in October 2018). Successful Town Deals will aim to improve skills, productivity, transport and broadband connectivity, provide vital social and cultural infrastructure and boost economic growth – with communities having a say on how the money is spent. The 100 places being supported to develop Town Deals in England include Leyland (South Ribble), Nelson (Pendle), Preston, Blackpool and Darwen (Blackburn with Darwen) in the Lancashire-14 area.

4. The British Retail Consortium, the Local Data Company and Land Securities etc.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is the trade association representing the entire range of large and small retailers. The website provides a range of useful facts and figures at the national level, whilst other more bespoke results are available to subscribing members.

The centre for retail research publishes a wide range of research and analysis that includes, amongst other things, details of the market share for online retailing in the UK, retail forecasts and lists of retailers that have experienced trading difficulties over recent years.

British Land is said to be the UK's largest retail landlord, and has a selection of sites in Lancashire.

Revo is the professional body that supports retail-led regeneration and for the management of and investment in shopping locations.  The organisation has a number of the regional groups that include the north of England. The northern group includes a number of the shopping locations in Lancashire.  

Barnfield Construction is a local company that has been built a variety of retail developments in East Lancashire.

The 'completely retail' website highlights many of the  shopping centres in the North West, and the results detail the square footage figures for other Lancashire centres. 

The association of town and city management is said to be Europe's largest membership organisation dedicated to helping town and city centres to be prosperous locations for business and investment, and as focal points for vibrant, inclusive communities.

The Retail Bulletin website is aimed at meeting retailers' need for quick, accurate and up-to-date news about the fast moving retail sector.

Colliers International provides retail and other market insights, plus a searchable database for properties for sale or rent that are split by region.

Sensormatic is a company providing services to large retailers and retail centres.

The Javelin Group is sad to be a leading firm of retail strategy consultants. The Association of Convenience Stores publishes annually 'The Local Shop Report' that tracks the key confidence indicators in the sector.  It surveys a substantial number of independent convenience store retailers, and tracks how they are feeling about recent sales performance, their optimism about the year ahead; whether they are adding or reducing staff hours, and their experience of crime and relationship with their community.    

5. Complementary Research and Analysis on the Lancashire Insight Website 

The wholesale, retail and motor trades article considers employee numbers in this broad service sector that includes a very large number of the county's employees.

The list of old established firms in Lancashire includes a number of independently owned retailers that have been in business for more than 100 years. In general, the firms have occupied the same premises for many years that are typically located within the urban centres. Few however, have outlets inside the large shopping malls that are more popular with the major national and international retail groups. 

6. Planning Legislation

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 27th March 2012 and replaces earlier advice and legislation  presented in the Planning Policy Statements (PPSs), including PPS4; Planning for Sustainable Development. The newly published Framework takes on board comments raised during consultation that the draft wording wasn't strong enough to defend the town centres from out of town developments. Under section 2, the NPPF seeks to support the vitality and viability of town centres. It states that retail and leisure development should take place in these areas in preference to edge-of- centre or out -of-centre locations. 

Appendix 2 of the NPPF replaces guidance in former PPS4 and defines the Town Centre as 'an area defined on the local authority's proposals map, including the primary shopping area and areas predominantly occupied by main town centre uses within or adjacent to the primary shopping area. References to town centres or centres apply to city centres, town centres, district  centres and local centres but exclude small parades of shops of purely neighbourhood significance'. NPPF goes on to state that existing out-of-centre developments do not constitute town centres (even where they include main town centre uses) unless they are identified as such in Local Plans. 

Most of the activities referred to under heading of retailing fall into use class code A1 (Shops). This use class also includes retail warehouses.  Further definitions (previously mentioned in former PPS4) refer to convenience shopping, comparison shopping or service retail. In addition, the original planning permission might be granted conditional to planning restrictions that limit the commercial use on a particular site to specific type of comparison goods – for example some out of centre locations limit activity to sale of bulky goods rather than fashion/clothing or convenience goods (food).  

Page updated April 2022