COUNCIL bosses are confident that Barnsley’s high street will be in a ‘strong position in 12 months’ time’ - despite the borough ranking ninth in the areas worst-hit by shop closures.
In shock figures released by the Local Data Company, it revealed that Barnsley was in the top ten worst-performing areas for shop closures of national branches in the country.
The data revealed a net loss of 14 outlets during the pandemic including shops, hospitality chains and Post Office branches.
The figures, which do not account for independent businesses across the borough, come after beloved local chains like the Barnsley Hospice’s charity shops were left with no choice but to permanently close their doors.
Julie Ferry, chief executive of Barnsley Hospice, said: “Like many other charities, our shops have been hit hard by the Covid-19 restrictions.
“All were forced to close for almost four months, and since reopening in July sales have been about half of what they were at the start of the year.
“Continuing to operate our shops at a loss is simply not viable for a charity and we must safeguard the provision of patient care.”
Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for place, has reiterated that the figures don’t reflect the current state of the high street and assures that local business owners will be supported.
He said: “It’s important to note that the data doesn’t cover independent businesses which have always been popular in Barnsley, as illustrated by the longevity of our famous market.
“Since March, the market has welcomed four new independent businesses while another has expanded, while two new names have opened in Market Kitchen.
“This is in addition to the raft of independent businesses which have opened their doors in the last two years.
“One of our Market Kitchen businesses has also recently expanded onto the high street and is enjoying considerable success.
“The data only considers chain stores, restaurants, banks and Post Offices. Chain retail and food and drink businesses account for most of the recent unit closures in Barnsley.
“Chains already at risk before the virus have struggled with the impact of the pandemic and have been closing stores on high streets across the country.
“But our vision is for a high street predominantly lead by leisure, complemented by a mix of independent and high street retail, in order to achieve our aim of building a high street of the future, where local people can work, live, relax and shop.
“The national retailers we’ve signed to the Glass Works are strong and performing well.
“We’ve also signed TK Maxx and Deichmann during the pandemic, with Deichmann set to open its doors before Christmas.
“Signing businesses like these during a global pandemic not only illustrates the strength of the scheme, but also that our confidence in the future of Barnsley’s high street is shared by national retailers.
“These aren’t just any chain stores; these are the right names for Barnsley - as per our leasing strategy.
“It’s undoubtedly a difficult time for businesses and unfortunately some won’t recover from the impact of the pandemic, as we’re seeing across the country.
“However, Barnsley’s high street has already shown strong signs of recovery with increasing footfall and spend, as well as further investment with new independent businesses opening their doors post lockdown.
“We’re confident that our high street will be in a strong position in 12 months’ time, led by the opening of the Glass Works.
“It’s important that residents continue to shop locally and support local businesses.”
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Council confident high street will be in ‘strong position’
Author: Emma Shepherd
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