South West London high streets feel impact of shop closures


Last year, an average of 20 shops a day closed down across the country.


By Nathan Blades

Wimbledon is feeling the impact of high street closures, reflecting national figures released last week.

Unlike other towns in the area, Wimbledon’s HMV store has so far escaped closure, but elsewhere the high street has succumbed to financial pressures. 

Pwc and the Local Data Company stated that last year, an average of 20 shops a day closed down, with further figures from December 2012 to February 2013 predicting this will increase to 28 per day.

Among the hardest-hit retailers across the researched town centres have been video games (-45%), health food (-24.7%) and clothing (-15.9%); while payday loan establishments, pawnbrokers and charity shops have increased in number (20%, 13.2% and 2.7% respectively).

Around Wimbledon town centre, owners of high street shops have been affected by recent closures. A GAME and a Jessops, long closed and abandoned since those businesses faced bankruptcy last year, linger unclaimed.

Millets, which also closed last year, had since been turned into a pop-up laptop repair shop, before finally becoming an Oxfam only three weeks ago. The Deputy Online Manager of the branch, 21-year-old Ellen Melhuish, said that many unemployed locals came to volunteer at the shop, including ex-employees from the nearby Jessops.

Mark Newbury, 28, deputy manager of the FARA charity shop, said that the opening of the new Oxfam branch had not affected the number of customers in his own store. He added that high street shop closures had affected him personally in the past, having taken up charity volunteering as a result of being made redundant during the recession.

Some sales assistants are seeing the closure of bigger businesses in a more positive light.

“It’s nice to see smaller, privately opened businesses,” said Erin Luke, manager of the Cancer Research shop.  

“Independently-run stores foster a better sense of community, so closures are not always a bad thing.”

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