It’s a gloomy start to the new year for Horsham’s high street as one prominent retailer closes and another faces administration.
Millets outdoor leisure store is to shut down after decades of trading in West Street - confirming it as one of the town’s first 2013 retail casualties.
This week shoppers stormed the unit to snap up heavily discounted goods before it closes on an unconfirmed date in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile struggling camera giant Jessops, with a store in Swan Walk Shopping Centre, was reported by national media to have gone into administration today (Wednesday January 9).
The news of such a demise has been met with shock and sadness. “It’s a sign of the times,” said 65-year-old Derek Purchase, who travels into Horsham from Worthing at least once a week to shop.
He is one of many visitors responsible for maintaining a vibrant local economy, but says he will look elsewhere if eateries and coffee houses begin to outnumber retailers.
“We come here every week because it’s nicer, cleaner,” he said. “But every shop that reopens, opens as an eatery - I’m amazed at all these coffee shops.
“People just won’t come in the end if all they can do is eat.”
Roger Baker, 77, of Worthing Road in Horsham, pins high street shop failure on the internet. He said: “Yet another one, it’s very sad.
“[Millets] have always been very good value for money for their clothes and walking boots.
“I suppose in the busy environment we live in nowadays it’s so easy just to sit at the key board. But there’s nothing like going into a shop and looking and touching the real article before you buy it.”
Russell Strachan, 66, of Greenway in Horsham, added: “It’s very sad, [Millets] have been here for as long as I can remember, I’m surprised actually.”
Swan Walk Shopping Centre’s Oil & Vinegar and Calendar Club seasonal pop-up stores will close in the coming days, leaving more empty units.
“We have been delighted to bring our customers these stores again for Christmas 2012,” said Gill Buchanan, Swan Walk centre manager, and the chair of Horsham Unlimited, the town centre business partnership.
“They are both very popular brands and we will continue to work to compliment our full tenant line up by introducing these sort of quality pop-up operations in the future.”
She added that a number of Horsham businesses have enjoyed a ‘bonny’ Christmas period.
Now that the festive season is over, however, the Christmas Bargain shop in West Street has vacated the premises next to Lloyds TSB Bank.
And Neighbouring Starbucks coffee shop still stands desolate after business was withdrawn in October 2012.
Recent years have seen the loss of a number of prominent high street retailers from Horsham, including Hawkins Bazaar, Julian Graves, Adams, Mothercare and Quality Seconds among others.
Barratts shoe shop and Bonmarche cleared their shelves last year, but were both brought back to life just weeks after closure.
In October last year Stephen Boyle, regional manager for Horsham’s Early Learning Centre in West Street, told the County Times there was a potential the kids’ store could close in the future as part of a restructuring by the parent company Mothercare. There is no immediate date for closure.