The challenge facing Sheffield city centre has been underlined by it slipping out of the top 50 places in the country to shop.
According to the latest evidence, it has dropped to 63, although Meadowhall has risen to 28 and is the highest placed purpose-built shopping centre after Bluewater in Kent
Researchers say that, in common with cities such as Birmingham, Cardiff and Southampton, Sheffield city centre no longer has the variety and diversity of retailers to attract visitors in growing numbers.
Their report comes amid intense frustration over continuing delays to the proposed Sevenstone retail quarter. At the same time, momentum is building over redeveloping parts of The Moor, including the new markets.
The impending arrival of more independent traders in the market is designed to be a shot-in-the arm to the city centre, but the scale of the overall challenge is reflected in the study by Oxford University and the Local Data Company.
More interesting are places to shop are said to be places such as Bath, York, Exeter and Cheltenham, as well as smaller centres such as Salisbury and Leamington Spa.
The introduction of leisure, entertainment and hospitality elevate places such as Bournemouth, Stratford-upon-Avon, Blackpool and Weston-Super-Mare.
Dr Jonathan Reynolds, academic director of Oxford University’s Institute of Retail Management, said: “The most successful high streets will need to be increasingly diverse and adaptable places, and not just in terms of their retail offer.”