Quarter of shops in Accrington are empty

Thomas Robertson of Robertson's Reef and Reptile Shop

Thomas Robertson of Robertson's Reef and Reptile Shop

First published in Hyndburn Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Education reporter

TRADERS across Accrington town centre say they are struggling to remain afloat, in spite of a major retailer’s decision to stay put.

Accrington is one of the most recession-hit town centres in the area, with approximately 25per cent of its shops empty.

When WH Smith announced it was pulling out of the town’s Arndale Centre, local leaders feared for the future.

However, in spite of a deal being struck between WH Smith and the shopping centre regarding rents, smaller retailers say they expect further closures.

Business owners said that while profits were going down, costs are going up.

Julie O’Hara, owner of Barbara Kay’s bout-ique, in Whalley Road, said that despite a loyal customer base, she has wondered if she will still be around next year.

She said: “Luckily we do have loyal people who come to us from all over. However, this last was the first Chr-istmas I wondered if I would still be here next year. There isn’t much to bring people in. The small business rate relief is also going. That will not help.”

Her manageress Julie James added: “Many people who haven’t been here in a while say they can’t believe the number of empty shops. It is off putting.

“Luckily, many wedding shops special order shoes from us, so we stay afloat.”

Paula Grime, owner of neigh-bouring shop Pretty Woman, said: “Trade is down, footfall is down. No-one comes to Accy any more. It’s just a lot of empty shops and yet more charity shops. When a store closes, it has a knock-on effect on everyone else.”

However, some stores were seeing a boost. Angela Spencer, manager at the recently-opened Barnardo’s, in the Arndale Centre, said: “We are really busy and we think the centre is very well managed. However, I think there could be more in the way of spec- ial deals offered to tempt more new traders.”

Some business owners, like Riz Vannatha, at Broadway News, said they were actively thinking of shutting up shop.

He said: “We are thinking about leaving because of the rent. It’s a small town and there are not enough draws to bring people in, but overheads are high. Rent is £29,000, plus VAT. Rates are £10,000. It’s crippling.”

Thomas Robertson, at Robert-son’s Reef and Reptile, in Wh-alley Road, said: “It’s a dying town and I’m reconsidering ren-ewing my lease. Rents and rates are too high and there’s no help for businesses.

“The rates – ours are £600 a month – are kill-ing us. Rent is £12,000 a year. You do wonder if it’s best to go. I love the business, but I won’t go into debt over it.”

Abbey Street Shopp-ing Centre owner Rohni Vij said: “The town is going down fast. There are far too many char-ity shops and not en- ough help for businesses. It costs £13-£14,000 in rates, and rent is £30,000 a year.”

Hyndburn Council deputy leader Clare Pritchard said the council was dedicated to listen-ing to independent traders. She said: “This is the whole reason we have the Accrington Town Team meetings. We are more than happy for independent traders to come along. Any ideas they would like to propose to help the town centre will be listened to.”

The next Accrington Town Team meeting is at 6pm on Thursday, May 26, at Scaitcliffe House. Call 01254 388111.

Comments (15)

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6:39pm Tue 26 Feb 13

mavrick says...

When the council realises it is not the best placed organisation to regenerate the town centre, Maybe things will change. People have made suggestions and have been totally ignored. A council committee or town centre manager is not the best way to regenerate the town centre. Accrington is no worse than many other towns. Lets look at the successful towns and learn from them, Accrington must play to it's strengths and its strength is the market. the new bus station is money wasted and will further damage Accrington. Maybe a true public consultation may help but it does not take a genius to work out why people are going elsewhere.
When the council realises it is not the best placed organisation to regenerate the town centre, Maybe things will change. People have made suggestions and have been totally ignored. A council committee or town centre manager is not the best way to regenerate the town centre. Accrington is no worse than many other towns. Lets look at the successful towns and learn from them, Accrington must play to it's strengths and its strength is the market. the new bus station is money wasted and will further damage Accrington. Maybe a true public consultation may help but it does not take a genius to work out why people are going elsewhere. mavrick
  • Score: 3

6:49pm Tue 26 Feb 13

shytalk says...

They are going elsewhere because there are no jobs
They are going elsewhere because there are no jobs shytalk
  • Score: 0

7:37pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Wishingwell says...

I think traders need to renegotiate their rent. If they shut down and nobody takes on the building, it is a liability. Right now any tenant covering a buildings costs is worth quite a lot.
I think traders need to renegotiate their rent. If they shut down and nobody takes on the building, it is a liability. Right now any tenant covering a buildings costs is worth quite a lot. Wishingwell
  • Score: 0

8:15pm Tue 26 Feb 13

sharonAccy says...

25% empty more like 75% it's very grim, don't see point of even going into town anymore
25% empty more like 75% it's very grim, don't see point of even going into town anymore sharonAccy
  • Score: 1

9:12pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Fingerbang says...

I know that the High Street is struggling but Accy needs to do more to compete and some radical rethinking is needed to rejuvenate the place inluding encouraging competitive rates to new businesses.

Sadly all that exists are pound shops. Doesnt help that the council sold their soul to Tesco. One in Accy, one in Harwood and several little ones.

Also no proper bookshop, a sign of a classless town. Sad, sad, sad
I know that the High Street is struggling but Accy needs to do more to compete and some radical rethinking is needed to rejuvenate the place inluding encouraging competitive rates to new businesses. Sadly all that exists are pound shops. Doesnt help that the council sold their soul to Tesco. One in Accy, one in Harwood and several little ones. Also no proper bookshop, a sign of a classless town. Sad, sad, sad Fingerbang
  • Score: 1

9:59pm Tue 26 Feb 13

Venomp says...

Before about 4 years ago, Sainsbury wanted to open in the Arndale centre but HBC gave permission to Tesco to open.
If the council would have thought then the main shops would have remained in the centre.
Before about 4 years ago, Sainsbury wanted to open in the Arndale centre but HBC gave permission to Tesco to open. If the council would have thought then the main shops would have remained in the centre. Venomp
  • Score: 1

12:12am Wed 27 Feb 13

2 for 5p says...

The shop keepers are totally to blame . moderise , come up with new ideas , market your business , ect ect .
Dont just sit there moaning about the council and blaming the public for not patronising your outlets.
Get with the times.
The shop keepers are totally to blame . moderise , come up with new ideas , market your business , ect ect . Dont just sit there moaning about the council and blaming the public for not patronising your outlets. Get with the times. 2 for 5p
  • Score: -1

12:53am Wed 27 Feb 13

clickhere says...

Fingerbang said "Also no proper bookshop, a sign of a classless town. Sad, sad, sad"
Why not try shopping in Great Harwood
where you can visit Pams Bookend - a proper bookshop.
Fingerbang said "Also no proper bookshop, a sign of a classless town. Sad, sad, sad" Why not try shopping in Great Harwood where you can visit Pams Bookend - a proper bookshop. clickhere
  • Score: 1

1:16am Wed 27 Feb 13

clickhere says...

The next meeting of the the Town Team is Thursday 16th May, not the 26th.....
The next meeting of the the Town Team is Thursday 16th May, not the 26th..... clickhere
  • Score: 0

12:29pm Wed 27 Feb 13

ossybolt says...

When will people realise ,town centres are a relic of the past.In Accrington you
have the Market Hall ,Market a couple of days a week and a few decent harishops.It doesn't matter where you go in the North West its the same.Unless
there is something special to draw the customers,at this time of penny-watching then business is in for a hard time.Have you tried the Charity Shop
for the Deaf in Accy a good range of cheap books available.
When will people realise ,town centres are a relic of the past.In Accrington you have the Market Hall ,Market a couple of days a week and a few decent harishops.It doesn't matter where you go in the North West its the same.Unless there is something special to draw the customers,at this time of penny-watching then business is in for a hard time.Have you tried the Charity Shop for the Deaf in Accy a good range of cheap books available. ossybolt
  • Score: 0

8:41pm Wed 27 Feb 13

Elegant1 says...

This situation has been allowed to develop without any control. It has gone on far too long. I am surprised by the costs attached to operating a small business. Something has got to be done to stem the haemorrhage before it is too late.
It is of little use for the Council to keep pointing out that business rates are not decided by them. The way things are developing business rates are the least of your worries.
I repeat that the town is dying on its knees! Something has to be done NOW!
This situation has been allowed to develop without any control. It has gone on far too long. I am surprised by the costs attached to operating a small business. Something has got to be done to stem the haemorrhage before it is too late. It is of little use for the Council to keep pointing out that business rates are not decided by them. The way things are developing business rates are the least of your worries. I repeat that the town is dying on its knees! Something has to be done NOW! Elegant1
  • Score: 0

8:42pm Wed 27 Feb 13

Elegant1 says...

This situation has been allowed to develop without any control. It has gone on far too long. I am surprised by the costs attached to operating a small business. Something has got to be done to stem the haemorrhage before it is too late.
It is of little use for the Council to keep pointing out that business rates are not decided by them. The way things are developing business rates are the least of your worries.
I repeat that the town is dying on its knees! Something has to be done NOW!
This situation has been allowed to develop without any control. It has gone on far too long. I am surprised by the costs attached to operating a small business. Something has got to be done to stem the haemorrhage before it is too late. It is of little use for the Council to keep pointing out that business rates are not decided by them. The way things are developing business rates are the least of your worries. I repeat that the town is dying on its knees! Something has to be done NOW! Elegant1
  • Score: 0

10:29pm Wed 27 Feb 13

Stop Backenders says...

Elegant1 wrote:
This situation has been allowed to develop without any control. It has gone on far too long. I am surprised by the costs attached to operating a small business. Something has got to be done to stem the haemorrhage before it is too late.
It is of little use for the Council to keep pointing out that business rates are not decided by them. The way things are developing business rates are the least of your worries.
I repeat that the town is dying on its knees! Something has to be done NOW!
I wonder how much the rates are for them new posh council chambers are, with all them empty business units behind it.Maybe the shop keepers are paying for them by some hidden charge, like the windmills spinning on them moors by a hidden charge on our electric bills.
[quote][p][bold]Elegant1[/bold] wrote: This situation has been allowed to develop without any control. It has gone on far too long. I am surprised by the costs attached to operating a small business. Something has got to be done to stem the haemorrhage before it is too late. It is of little use for the Council to keep pointing out that business rates are not decided by them. The way things are developing business rates are the least of your worries. I repeat that the town is dying on its knees! Something has to be done NOW![/p][/quote]I wonder how much the rates are for them new posh council chambers are, with all them empty business units behind it.Maybe the shop keepers are paying for them by some hidden charge, like the windmills spinning on them moors by a hidden charge on our electric bills. Stop Backenders
  • Score: 2

4:47pm Fri 1 Mar 13

Stop Backenders says...

MULTI-MILLION-pound plans for a hotel and retail park, creating over 1,500 jobs, could be fast-tracked.
London-based Goldtique Ventures wants to demolish 1930s buildings on Clayton-le-Moors’ Junction 7 business park, repl-acing them with high- tech units.

More companies getting planning permission that will kill off more shops and businesses in the surrounding towns, how many more do we need?
Let us see, if their fairy tale promises off 1,500 jobs for people in Hyndburn materialise somehow I do not think it will.
It will be contractors and cheap labour brought in from other sources, they will be advertised in the job centres but the company has the final say where the workers come from and we all know where that will be.
Remember all the jobs and wealth that Tesco were supposed to bring to Accrington, were still waiting?
What about all of the shops that have closed in the Arndale centre, due to Tesco, and the other big names?
Accrington you have a new post office, pizza, shops, petrol station, Hotel and other businesses to contend with, that should help you on the way to recovery couldn’t get any better for you could it.
MULTI-MILLION-pound plans for a hotel and retail park, creating over 1,500 jobs, could be fast-tracked. London-based Goldtique Ventures wants to demolish 1930s buildings on Clayton-le-Moors’ Junction 7 business park, repl-acing them with high- tech units. More companies getting planning permission that will kill off more shops and businesses in the surrounding towns, how many more do we need? Let us see, if their fairy tale promises off 1,500 jobs for people in Hyndburn materialise somehow I do not think it will. It will be contractors and cheap labour brought in from other sources, they will be advertised in the job centres but the company has the final say where the workers come from and we all know where that will be. Remember all the jobs and wealth that Tesco were supposed to bring to Accrington, were still waiting? What about all of the shops that have closed in the Arndale centre, due to Tesco, and the other big names? Accrington you have a new post office, pizza, shops, petrol station, Hotel and other businesses to contend with, that should help you on the way to recovery couldn’t get any better for you could it. Stop Backenders
  • Score: 1

7:10pm Sat 2 Mar 13

Birtrumthegreat says...

It's quite simple the council need to look at the rates they charge, a trader gets nothing for this money and yet they still have to pay extra for waste disposed of on top of these exorbitant fees. A full review is needed ,as this money would be better spent on employment within the shops, rather than funding huge final salary pensions in the town hall.
It's quite simple the council need to look at the rates they charge, a trader gets nothing for this money and yet they still have to pay extra for waste disposed of on top of these exorbitant fees. A full review is needed ,as this money would be better spent on employment within the shops, rather than funding huge final salary pensions in the town hall. Birtrumthegreat
  • Score: 1

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