Empty shop fears for Saxmundham

FEARS have been raised over the retail future of a Suffolk market town following concerns about the number of empty shops in its high street.

Mark Lord

FEARS have been raised over the retail future of a Suffolk market town following concerns about the number of empty shops in its high street.

The influence of supermarkets has been blamed for the closure of about a half-a-dozen stores and business in Saxmundham town centre.

One of the most recent happened in January when Becky Eglinton was forced to shut her children's clothes store claiming she could not compete with their lower prices.

Some shoppers in Saxmundham are concerned that despite the fact that the town still boasts a good mix of bustling businesses which are “thriving” the empty shops are driving people away and could lead to more closures in the future as trade declines.

Edward Simpson, who still shops regularly in the town, said: “My concern is that people will think that it is on the wane, with shops closing. Thought must be given as to what can be done about these empty shops and the possibility of encouraging more business and shoppers to come to Saxmundham.

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“Empty properties are a liability we need to do something about the situation before it is too late.”

Another shopper, Julie Gibbons added: “Saxmundham should be a goldmine as people from all the surrounding villages should come here to shop, but I cannot help but think that more and more people these days would rather get in their cars and drive down the A12 to the nearest Tesco.”

Speaking on behalf of Businesses of Saxmundham, the town's business association, Bob Foyer, from the Bistro at the Deli, said: “I would disagree completely, to my mind Saxmundham is on the up and businesses are thriving and some are expanding.

“I know for a fact that most of the shops which are currently empty have businesses waiting to move in but what people have to understand is that getting in to your new business premises can take about six months.

“I believe that people can get pretty much everything they need here in town and the things they can't currently get I am fairly certain these new shops when they open will provide.”

However, Mr Foyer does admit that supermarket shopping is an easier option for many people than shopping in town.

“It is easier, you are guaranteed a parking space and everything is there under one roof,” he said. “But these things can be found in Saxmundham as well, I do not think it is an issue with goods not being available but wider issues to do with parking etc.”

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