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.
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…