Retail Royalty shares her vision for the future of shopping

General | 12.06.2023

Retail royalty ‘Mary Queen of Shops’ shared her vision for the transformation of the UK’s high streets and shopping malls when she met dozens of business people in Birmingham.

Mary Portas declared the death of consumerism when she addressed an event in Sutton Coldfield, staged by the Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield BID and sponsored by commercial property consultancy Burley Browne.

Recognised as one of the country’s leading retail experts, she gave a fascinating insight into the sector which she said had been through a perfect storm resulting in the closure of many shops leaving a high vacancy rate in some towns and cities.

The sector is going through a cultural shift and should now embrace a new reality, encouraging small businesses, local traders, artists and craftspeople to build vital and vibrant communities. 

“Some 83% of people think it is vitally important to support their local businesses. That is a good thing that came out of Covid. We are in a whole new world and the way we used to do things is no longer fit for purpose. Consumerism is dying,” she said.

David Hemming, Joint Managing Director at Burley Browne, said: ““As commercial property agents, what resonated with me most was Mary’s comments that every decision that is made by landlords on incoming tenants has a huge impact on the community and a town’s success. 

Therefore, we hold a level of responsibility to ensure our clients make the right decisions, which I believe we generally do very well.  I think we all agreed with Mary that creating a thriving ecosystem of businesses that are linked to the community is critical and it’s for all of us to become invested in the vision.”

David added: “As a business we were delighted to support this event as the future of Sutton Coldfield is really important to us. The opportunity to support an event that brings together local businesses to start a conversation on the future of the town with someone of Mary's experience could not be missed. As a director of the BID, a voluntary role, I'm delighted to be involved as I'm passionate about my home town. Burley Browne is based in Sutton Coldfield, and we do a huge amount of work for both land owners and occupiers here.”

Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield BID is an independent, not for profit, non-political, business-led organisation working to create an improved environment for businesses in Sutton Coldfield town centre under the direction of experienced BID manager Michelle Baker.

Burley Browne is one of the West Midlands’ leading independent commercial property consultants. It provides a comprehensive range of commercial property services to a wide variety of clients. These include private individuals and small businesses, through to pension funds, banks, property investors and developers, multi-national companies and national retail and leisure operators.

From its Sutton Coldfield head office, Burley Browne is unique in providing specialist knowledge provided by chartered surveyors specialising in each sector and discipline and covering Birmingham and Staffordshire areas (which include Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield, Tamworth and Walsall), whilst also serving the wider West Midlands region. Visit for more information.