BUSINESSES in Basingstoke have spoken out about the ‘death of High Street’ and urged shoppers to show their support for local businesses.
Retail employment in the high streets fell by more than three-quarters between 2015 and 2018, according to the Office of National Statistics.
The British Retail Consortium said at the beginning of 2022, footfall on high streets fell by 24.2 per cent in January, 1.1 percentage points worse than in December 2021 and below the three-month average fall of 22.2 per cent.
As recently as June 2022, there was a sustained decline in retail sales for the third month in a row.
Small businesses say they are on the brink – and have asked for more support as they fight the “death of the high street” in a world of online shopping and the cost of living crisis.
Sandra O’Reilly, of Basingstoke Service Center on Winchester Street, said online retail is hurting her business.
She said, “Nobody’s coming up [to the top of town] Shopping. Everyone went online instead of buying from us, it affected us quite a bit.
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“We’re not doing good business at all. We’re going to have customers come here to ask a price for an item they can get online, then look at their phones while they’re here and then say they can get it cheaper on Amazon and then walk out .”
The company has been there for 40 years but recently feels it is losing business due to the accessibility of online retailers.
Lindsay of Nicola Florist on Church Street said she felt the loss of a sense of community at the top of the city had affected the atmosphere.
She said: “The market used to be so much better, we used to have a stall up there. People used to come to this end of town just to go to the market.”
She said even events like the Queen’s platinum jubilee didn’t encourage the community to come together.
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She said: “When we had the anniversary, it didn’t really seem like there was anything going on. There were no decorations and no competition for the best shop windows.”
As with other independent business owners, the recent increase in the cost of living has caused their florist to see a drop in customers.
“People aren’t going to come out and spend £40 to £50 on a bouquet,” she said.
Nicola Florist has been in business for 45 years and over the years has seen the decline of the high street, most notably with the opening of the large Festival Place shopping center in 2002.
David Langley of Church Street Models on Church Street talks about how both local and national politics affect businesses such as: B. the cost of living crisis and the lack of support.
He said: “All the main roads are fighting until business tariffs are settled … this country is a mess.”
He also felt that the current state of local politics has not helped Basingstoke’s independent businesses.
Dan Flewitt of The Gaming Den on London Street said rents and business rates were too high, but added that this wasn’t limited to the High Street as there was also vacant space on Festival Place.
Like Church Street Models, he feels that “a combination of rates that are too high and business rates that are too high is keeping people from settling on this end of town.”
The Gaming Den has been at the helm of the town for three years and Dan feels he has a relatively good connection to other local business owners in his area, but not a great connection to the local council.
He said: “Online shopping has always been a problem, but we like to think that we have a personal touch and that people come here to look at everything in person and get expert advice.”
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