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Worry for Stratford high street as big brands Superdrug and Timpson temporarily close town centre locations

CLOSURES of two high street shops in Stratford reveal the perilous state of retail trade, warn business experts.

Both Superdrug and Timpson have decided to temporarily shut their town centre sites, even though as essential shops they could remain open.

All quiet on Stratford high street. Photo: Mark Williamson
All quiet on Stratford high street. Photo: Mark Williamson

A Superdrug spokesperson said the high street location was in “temporary hibernation while we concentrate on focusing on keeping stores open that are critical to supporting communities”.

Meanwhile, Sir John Timpson, chairman of 155-year-old chain Timpson, warned many high street brands would not survive lockdown. He told the BBC: “There are going to be some names that don’t come back.”

Even retail giant Marks and Spencer said trading had been especially difficult in the town centre. A spokesperson told the Herald: “The last year has been challenging for the whole retail industry and we know that local customers have sometimes found it more difficult to access our Bridge Street store due to pedestrian access issues and the temporary suspension of parking outside the store.”

The Centre for Retail Research said it expects the first half of 2021 to be worse than 2020 – which was, in turn, the worst year for retail failures since the financial crisis of 2008.

However, according to Joe Baconnet, director of Stratforward BID, more could be done to help mitigate the financial crisis at a national and local level. He said: “We should all be working to an agreed recovery plan, but we’ve been back in lockdown or raised tiers so many times that no one knows where in the recovery plan we are.

“I’d argue that for some of our businesses, we are in crisis again, rather than pre-recovery, recovery or transformation.”

He added: “What we all need to ensure is that investors and businesses know what story they are investing in. That will give confidence. Uncertainty is a killer for investment.”

Read more: Warwickshire business leaders want furlough extended to the summer

For more on the issues facing the high street, see this Thursday's Herald.

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