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City can become the new Cheltenham, say traders
GOOD START: 23 Knots manager Yasmin Shouklaguy in the High Street store. Picture by Paul Jackson. 3913412101
TRADERS say Worcester could become the “new Cheltenham” with the opening of new quality boutique-style shops to reinvigorate the city centre.
With fashionable country clothing company Joules moving to Worcester within weeks other stores have said there is a potential for a more upmarket vibe in the city centre.
Rebecca Endacott, owner and manager of Amorè in Pump Street, Worcester, opened her shop which specialises in home and gifts such as candles, vases, mugs, stationary, jewellery and kitchenware, on May 24. She said: “I’m getting nice feedback from people.
“A shop like Joules is giving people more incentive to come to the city. It’s nice to see other businesses popping up. Someone even said to me “Worcester is looking like the new Cheltenham”.”
In fact some people now come from Cheltenham to shop in Worcester.”
An independent shop called 23 Knots also opened at the end of August at 98 High Street, Worcester, offering women’s clothing, homeware and home accessories.
Joe Colls Burnett, speaking on behalf of manager Yasmin Shouklaguy, said the businesses offered fair trade, high quality, hand-made but affordable “ethnic-style clothes” and was something of a “Bohemian boutique” with a nautical, Mediterranean theme.
He said: “We have had a really good start and we’re really pleased. Joules, offering that type of country clothing, is a great thing. It is still a developing High Street. That style of shopping is going to attract more people to come into Worcester as a whole. It is going more towards what we have in Cheltenham. That is the sort of town we’re looking at.”
We have already reported how three businesses are to fill empty units in Copenhagen Street, Worcester, including Joules, Subtone, a photography businesses which is already open and a wine bar called Casablanca, scheduled to open on Saturday.
However, there have been concerns raised by some traders that not enough incentives are being offered to help traders in Worcester city centre, including from Richard Carter of Trinity Pet and Gardens. A further blow is the departure of kitchenware company Lakeland from St Swithin’s Street in Worcester to Webbs Garden Centre in Wychbold, near Droitwich in the New Year.
Nationally, town centre shops closed at a rate of 18 a day during the first half of the year in a sign that high street retailers continued to suffer despite signs of improvement in the wider economy.
The rate fell from more than 20 during the same period last year, but it was charity stores, betting shops and cheque cashing outlets that picked up the slack.
Video and photography outlets and women's fashion retailers suffered the worst drops in numbers.
A study of 500 UK town centres from accountants PwC compiled by the Local Data Company showed 3,366 outlets closed in the six-month period, compared with 3,157 openings, a net reduction of 209 shops.
One week on and shoppers are back!
TRADERS have backed a struggling businessman who says part of the city centre is becoming a “ghost town”.
Some questioned whether the desolate image of Worcester city centre taken by Richard Carter of Trinity Pets and Garden Supplies and published on Monday’s front page was taken at 3.30pm last Tuesday because the food van in the background was closed.
But Jodie Irish who works at the van called “Jayne’s Catering” in The Shambles said she closed at 3.30pm last Tuesday because the city was so quiet and left by 4pm.
“All of a sudden it just goes dead,” she said. “That’s what it’s like - it is a bit of a ghost town at that time. Last week I closed early because it was so quiet.”
Yesterday we returned a week to the day after the picture was taken to investigate and while it was not as quiet as last week, it was still far from busy.
Your Worcester News reporter spent more than half an hour with Mr Carter, who is adamant the picture was taken no later than 4pm, duirng which time he served just one customer.
“If people don’t start supporting me, I won’t be here at all,” he said.
“I want to be a traditional shop, not go down the internet route. Everyone says it’s the way forward but it’s killing the High Street. We are as cheap as anything on the internet.”
Louise Vine is a shop assistant at The Frame Warehouse opposite the pet shop.
She said: “People need to get off their backsides and come to town. People need to support local traders. The traffic wardens aren’t exactly helping. No wonder it’s like a ghost town.”
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