SOME new shops have started to appear in Bognor Regis Town Centre over recent months as we gingerly come out of this protracted recession.
Shops such as Condor Blinds, Hogan’s Shoe Outlet and the William Hardwicke came back into use, on the High Street. The Little Deli, Hair by Oksana, The Junction Box Clothing in Upper London Road, have opened up.
This is a very encouraging sign and what’s more they are independent shops, which help the immediate local economy.
The towns that fared better during the recession were ones that on average had a higher proportion of independent shops compared to nationals.
The wider Bognor Regis Town Centre area shows a decrease in the number of empty shops, with a 10.5 per cent vacancy rate – about 27 empty shops from July 2014. This is from a high of around 14 per cent in 2012. According to the latest figures from the Local Data Company (LDC), shop vacancy rates fell below 14 per cent for the first time since July 2010.
That compares to 14.6 per cent in February 2012, suggesting that an improving economy and widespread efforts to help town centres are paying off. There are of course some shops which have closed.
WH Smith will also be relocating to 10 London Road on September 11, to their sister company, store British Bookshops.
This will leave a large vacant site in London Road, but it presents a great opportunity for a retail/commercial venture, especially now that the precinct works have been completed.
However, I am hoping for some improvement the next time I do the vacancy rate audit due the number of new businesses opening up, particularly in upper London Road.
Furthermore a new toy shop has been conducting interviews for staff for a new store in London Road.
Hogan’s Shoe Outlet which relocated from Chichester after 15 years, due to the high rent and rates there, reports that his customers have stayed loyal, visiting him at the new store.
In addition he claimed that a dozen people told him, they have never shopped in Bognor Regis before but came to visit the upmarket shoe shop and were pleasantly surprised by the town centre offer.
We welcome more quality shops to consider Bognor Regis to invest in and continue to revive the town centre!
Toyubur Rahman, Bognor Regis town centre manager