June 18 2013 Latest news:
By Emma Brennan
Monday, March 11, 2013
MORE than 50 business-owners have attended a crunch meeting on how to improve trade in their town.
Some traders in Hadleigh claim they have experienced a 50% drop in customers since a new Morrisons supermarket opened on the outskirts of town.
The idea of the meeting, organised by the Hadleigh Chamber of Commerce, was to discuss ways to boost trade and counter what shop-owners are calling “the Morrisons effect”.
Last night, a spokesman for the supermarket denied the new Calais Street store was wholly responsible for the sharp drop in footfall.
But the town’s High Street Co-operative store, which has been trading in Hadleigh for about 115 years, confirmed it had also seen a steep drop in customer numbers since Morrisons opened in January.
At the meeting on Wednesday, town councillor Jan Byrne and chamber of commerce president Tony Addison told business- owners a survey carried out in the High Street after Morrisons opened had shown a 50% drop initially, which had now evened out at between 15% and 35%.
But Mr Addison said traders had to accept that Morrisons was “here to stay”, adding: “The main thing we need to do now is to think about the effect this has had in the town and what we can do positively in response.”
Suggestions put forward at the meeting included forming a town team, employing a town centre manager, and pushing for free all-day parking. Some traders also suggested Morrisons should offer to help revitalise the town.
But last night, spokesman for the supermarket chain, Julian Bailey, said it would be “highly unusual” for the opening of a single shop to cause a 50% drop in trade.
He added: “These sorts of situations are generally a little more complicated than that.
“High streets all over the country are experiencing issues, not because of the opening of one shop but because of things like the growing popularity of internet shopping and the lack of access to free parking.
“We would be happy to listen to what the chamber of commerce has to say, but any solutions have to be workable.”
East of England Co-operative executive Amanda Long said they fully supported the work the chamber was doing to help re-invigorate the High Street.
She said: “Having recently signed up to the chamber’s loyalty scheme, which promotes local traders and rewards local custom, we believe that by working in partnership with local businesses, we can preserve the vibrant and attractive High Street for residents and visitors alike.
“Our Hadleigh store is a key part of our estate and we will continue to meet with other local traders to share all ideas and to see how we can help to save this much-loved high street.”
Babergh District Council’s economic development manager David Benham said they were working with the chamber of commerce on ways to pull people into the town and improve trading conditions.