VIDEO: STATE OF THE HIGH STREET: EMPTY SHOPS, HIGH RENTS AND DWINDLING FOOTFALL

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Although many businesses have been re-opening their doors this week as the coronavirus restrictions are eased, the declining state of the High Street – particularly in Newport – is evident with a number of notable, permanent closures over the winter period.

No less than 40 stores sit empty in Newport’s shopping district with known brands such as Topman, Peacocks and Ponden Homes all bowing out of the town so far in 2021.

15 years ago the High Street was a staple of day-to-day life, but the picture is very different as we head out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst towns such as Ryde are seeing a receding High Street with a strong core, Newport appears to be breaking down from its very centre with little left of what was once the Island’s top destination for shopping.

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The national brands may be closing their doors but smaller, independent traders still have faith in the High Street. Geoff Lewis, who opened ‘Artisan’ just 2 weeks before the latest lockdown, has now thrown the doors back open. He says:

“I think if you’re going to be in the High Street, you’ve got to have something you can’t buy on the internet – you’ve got to have an offering that is unique to you, that isn’t available online.

“To be on the High Street, you’ve got to be versatile and move quickly in the changing times, and that’s what the big chains haven’t been able to do, they just cannot react as quickly as the small businesses can.”

Island Echo’s Adam Richardson reports…

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bobthebuilder
bobthebuilder
1 month ago

Thing is newport is an old horrid nackered old town not inviting and buying online is so much cheaper gets delivered to your door dont have to leave home park etc and mingle with people i dont want to be around.

isle of wighter
isle of wighter
Reply to  bobthebuilder
1 month ago

exactly – -plus

pay the government tax to drive your car on the road -vehicle tax -before driving to your shop
pay the council the parking tax to park in newport – before opening your shop
pay the council an exorbitant business tax to run a business in newport
pay the landlord an exorbitant rent to run a business from the high street.
pay for CCTV and security to protect your business from the low lifes that hang around
pay insurance, which includes tax, to recoup losses, if the low lifes do rob the shop.
pay income tax and national insurance on earnings
pay corporation tax
pay value added tax

and then, unlock the door and open for business

MC hammer
MC hammer
1 month ago

The writing was on the wall for all British high streets when Woolworths closed, the only thriving high streets now are the posh places such as Windsor, very sad situation for the rest of us,

Miss sensible
Miss sensible
1 month ago

Think the council need to re assess the over the top parking charges ,maybe 1/2 hrs free may encourage shoppers????
Or maybe not with all the empty shops.
It certainly looks run down .
Let’s hope people do support the shops that are still left otherwise it will become one big building site for flats .

stephen
stephen
Reply to  Miss sensible
1 month ago

id love to support the shops but i am not paying the high parking charge so ill give it a miss. Half hr is not enough time to get to any shop stand in a que and back to the car. Now if the parking was cheaper then i would support the shops but sadly we have no chance of that with this rip off council.

Miss sensible
Miss sensible
Reply to  stephen
1 month ago

No not half an hour ,1 to 2 hrs sorry if it looked like half !!!!
Half an hour wouldn’t be enough …

The oracle
The oracle
1 month ago

Bezos(Amazon) is laughing his socks off. Don’t buy anything from Amazon. Buy from small retailers online if you can’t get to the shops. Usually much cheaper than Amazon.

IOWter
IOWter
1 month ago

I agree in these times you have to be offering something you cannot find on the internet, which is extremely hard to do seeing as you can pretty much find anything and everything on the internet nowadays.
It’s sad to see as I remember going down the town as a youngster with my mum and dad, going into woolys to get my pick and mix treat on the weekends. I do miss those times!

Oldbutalive
Oldbutalive
1 month ago

Out of town supermarkets started the downfall of town centres.
High parking charges also do not help.
Will the High Street recover, possibly, but unlikely.

Sunshine
Sunshine
1 month ago

Business Enterprise. The council need to get their thinking caps on, encourage these empty shops to get up and running again by REDUCING the RENT for a start, limit the amount of charity shops, sorry, but that’s what will happen, look to encourage market traders into Newport once a week… lower the car parking charges..something along these lines. Building rabbit hutches they call homes is not the way to go.

Wight Knight
Wight Knight
Reply to  Sunshine
1 month ago

I certainly agree about the the greed-generated rents, but what’s your problem with charity shops?

Sunshine
Sunshine
Reply to  Wight Knight
1 month ago

No problem with charity shops at all. I donate to various charities. It seems when shops become empty they move in. Not sure if the council’s give them reduced rent? But Newport, Sandown they both need a good variety of traders, this is my point, charity shops unfortunately will not bring back the huddle and bussle needed for a thriving town.

Wight Knight
Wight Knight
Reply to  Sunshine
1 month ago

I’m glad to hear that you donate to charities, but you still seem to be antagonisitic towards the charity SHOPS. Why shouldn’t they occupy an available empty shop? Do you think they are somehow preventing other businesses from doing so? That can’t be it since there are ‘over 40 vacant retail premises in Newport’ alone now.
So what IF they pay a reduced rent – they are not there to make any kind of profit, just to be able to fund their good works. Or are you in some way jealous that they might get a reduction? And limiting charity or any other kind of shops can only further reduce footfall in the high street. Please try to understand.

Miss sensible
Miss sensible
Reply to  Sunshine
1 month ago

No as I mentioned previously we don’t need rabbit hutches like the 1s in East cowes .
Could not believe how many houses/ rabbit hutches were built there !!!!.
I have a small triangular area at top of my garden 3 flats anyone??????

Debby
Debby
1 month ago

The problem was letting all the chain stores in! They were built like a House of Cards. All owned by consortium’s, so when the owners got in trouble the whole lot went down. We should have kept our local businesses, who offered something different from all the Mainland towns and then Newport would have continued to look like the market town that it used to be.

Know it all
Know it all
1 month ago

Lets not beat about the bush here. Commercial estate agents advise on what rents to charge. Some of these rents are outrageous. When most of your profits goes towards keeping up with the rents it WILL end in failure.
And can someone explain. When these businesses call it a day because of the very high overheads, they can stay empty for years, producing zero rent and council tax . WHERE IS THE SENCE IN THAT? Oh and a quick PS.
Out of town stores didn’t help either. Thanks planners.

Truth
Truth
1 month ago

No point letting the council vultures circle your car, best shop on line.
Towns are finished now, and it’s mainly councils greed that have created this situation…

Steve Bahama
Steve Bahama
1 month ago

Parking is the problem unless you are lucky to find a space in the High St, you have park away from the High St and pay to park, superstores do nearly everything you need and you can park outside free and your shopping trolley to your car not carry it. Councils are quick enough to give these big stores planning permission which in turn causes the demise of the smaller owner run business.

Obviously
Obviously
1 month ago

Parking puts me off going into town, I don’t want to pay silly prices to park conveniently, I can go home bargains and park for free while I shop, I can go Aldi and park for free while I shop … the council is just money grabbing

IOWer
IOWer
1 month ago

Half the Island has no money and the half that does spend their shopping day outs in Southampton or Portsmouth. Families want bright modern buildings, FiveGuys, Frankie & Benny’s, Boss, John Lewis, Moss Bros etc with events happening in the same place.

“Artisan” isn’t going to cut it

We can go on about business rates and parking charges, the fact is there’s very little to attract the modern shopper to Newport and these brands won’t come anywhere near the Island.

IoW Dave
IoW Dave
1 month ago

I cycled into Newport yesterday and it was dead considering it was the first day of opening. I won’t park in Newport or any town that taxes people to park a car.

fred
fred
1 month ago

Turn it into a council estate so locals can live and work on the island they grew up on without being pushed out by second home owners.

disillusioned
disillusioned
1 month ago

I agree with all the comments about exorbitant charges, taxes, rents and parking charges. It is sad to see the apparent demise of the High Street, not just in Newport but in most places both here and on the mainland. Online shopping is a big part of it, the pandemic was / is the final nail in the coffin for many businesses in my view. My view on the parking issue and charges though is this, I’ve not owned a car for some years now and have no regrets in giving it up. Cycling is my way of getting around how, including for shopping. Costs virtually nothing to run a bike, you can leave it almost any where and no parking charges!

Smithy
Smithy
1 month ago

Hardly surprising with the extortionate parking fees and sky high rents and business rates. It will only get worse now since lockdowns people have shopped elsewhere and realise how easy it is especially younger people who automatically go to the internet as there’s more choice often cheaper and less hassle to have stuff delivered. It’s a real shame but our money grabbing council are mainly to blame so think of this when we vote in may.

fedup
fedup
1 month ago

Obviously my earlier comment has hit home a bit hard and, therefore, been taken down. Some people just don’t like to be told the truth. Oh dear. Hard luck.

Sensitive Soul
Sensitive Soul
Reply to  fedup
1 month ago

What did you say? In a nutshell, not a long explanation, then maybe it would stay?

MC hammer
MC hammer
Reply to  fedup
1 month ago

What did you say that was so controversial ? Maybe your own self importance ?

Helen
Helen
1 month ago

Newport needs an injection of shops that provide things to encourage family shopping and also shops that provide local produce, cafes that provide for lunchtime gatherings, somewhere to stop for a coffee and a chat with friends. It needs to be inviting to attract the holiday makers. The council really needs to think again regarding parking charges and of course rentals.
We do not want to see houses filling up what can be an inviting town with some thought and help from the council to encourage shop owners and shoppers. Here’s hoping!

Corkhead
Corkhead
1 month ago

Newport’s done ruined by planners too much new development in one place, new attractions made everyone want to go,it takes ages to get there, ages to find parking then you have no coins so put a £1 in & don’t get change you feel ripped off to start with,can’t relax as always looking at the time & for wardens. What mindset is this to go shopping no wonder we sit at home relaxing with a drink & shop online.Most week ends Before they built on the car park where kfc is me & co would park there & spend all day in town. Eating drinking & would most likely buy clothes & stuff Because there was no pressure to leave.

Cherry Blossom
Cherry Blossom
1 month ago

So many going on about parking, but if more people were to travel by bus there’d be no worries about that. I don’t have car, used to go to Newport a lot, Thornton’s, BHS, PoundStretcher, Claires, Topshop, Starbucks, all gone now. To think I used to hope that John Lewis or a Debenhams, and a Miss Selfridge might come to the Island. No chance of that now.

Old Mike
Old Mike
Reply to  Cherry Blossom
29 days ago

Unfortunately not all of us can travel by bus. If you are an oldie, and live at some distance from Newport, bus travel is a bit of a gamble as Southern Vectis buses don’t have toilets!

John Doe
John Doe
1 month ago

There are still some great shops in Newport worth visiting.Visual Impact great choice and much better than shopping online.Hursts,Steve Gasgoine.Waterstones,Blacks,Pets With Heart,Readers,Party Shop next door ,love Running ,Mia,Wight mountain ,Ralphs Veg…etc and plenty of places to eat and drink..usually park behind the cinema or for free on Donor and stroll in.
God only knows why they ever built that monstrosity in front of the bus station

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