A substantial number of empty shopfronts loom over the streets of Gloucester city centre.
Many of these are shops which haven’t survived the pandemic which began just over a year ago in March 2020.
Some of these have laid in a state of abandon for quite some time beforehand.
Others feature signs notifying shoppers that they are closed due to Covid-19 and some are simply closed for repairs or refurbishment.
We explored the ‘Gate Streets’ in the city centre to count how many appeared closed for business, our reporter found 37 in total out of the circa 575 shop units in the city centre.
The empty units included, the previously named:
- Burger King
- Crown Inn
- David Edwards
- E-Cigarette Direct
- Jewel in Crown
- Mango Lounge
- No1 Currency
- Phone Master
- Pound Stretcher
- Top Shop
Emily Gibbon, Gloucester BID (Business Improvement District) Manager, said: “We are working with the Economic Development team at Gloucester City Council on a vacant unit project.
“This will be appearing in the next couple of weeks, aim is to uplift the empty units, advertising their availability, adding colour and promoting Gloucester.
“There are amazing regeneration projects happening all around the city, that will show that Gloucester is a very exciting place to be.
“There has been a lot of change on the high street over the last decade. Main driver behind this being the increase of online retail and change in consumerism and for some major brands this became a tug-of-war with online vs in store purchases.
“The COVID crisis accelerated the change and movement on the high street in 2020 and we saw various high street names disappear from town and city centres all around the country. Sadly leaving empty units.”
Mrs Gibbon pointed out that lots of new businesses had also appeared in in the city centre such as on The Oxebode, St Aldate Street, Northgate Street and in Gloucester Quays.
“The purchase of the old Poundstretcher unit on Westgate Street being a very positive sign, plus the repurpose of the Debenhams unit thanks to the University of Gloucestershire and relocation of Primark, due to open this year, it’s a very promising in the city,” added the BID manager.
Councillor Richard Cook, Leader of Gloucester City Council, said: “It has been a challenging time for everybody including retailers however we’re pleased to see that new businesses are opening on a weekly basis and the number of empty shops is falling. The changing high street is a national issue and thankfully our gate streets have half the national average of empty shops.
What would you like to see done with the empty units in Gloucester? Have your say in the comments blow
“However, we’ve been working to support businesses by distributing grants, running a campaign to encourage people back safely, helping retailers become Covid safe and a soon to be launched arts project with the BID and partners, to revamp empty units. We have also created a city centre commission with businesses and other organisations to look at the future of our high street and how it can create exciting new opportunities for leisure and other uses, such as the Debenhams becoming a university campus.”
“I would like to give credit to Cllr Dawn Melvin who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to help keep retail premises occupied, before standing down as a Cabinet Member after the election.”