IT’S official – Littlehampton’s shopping precinct is one of the most prosperous in the area, claim Arun District Council.
As the town welcomes its latest new business – The Works – to the High Street today, Arun has announced that the number of occupied premises in the precinct is at one of the highest levels in 15 years.
Miriam Nicholls, Arun’s business development manager, said that this is an “incredible achievement” for the town.
As it stands, there are around 5.4 per cent of stores that remain unoccupied – which is almost 10 per cent lower than the national average of around 14 per cent.
Mrs Nicholls said: “This is an incredible achievement for the area and I think it is down to a combination of things that have happened over the last 10 years or so.
“We have always strived to make the town look like it is loved. So getting rid of graffiti, encouraging the wonderful floral displays, tidying up shop fronts – it all makes an impact.
“I know we have pushed and pushed and pushed and when things don’t look so good, we give a gentle nudge in the right direction and clearly this is working.”
Over the past few years Littlehampton has seen investment from some major high street retailers, from Waitrose opening up last year, to Greggs, Costa, Sainsburys and Iceland.
Every Friday also sees the ever-popular Littlehampton market pitch up in High Street – offering a vast array of fresh produce, clothes and other items.
This year has also seen Kamsons Pharmacy open in the former Gamley’s toy shop, which had been an eyesore to the High Street entrance of the Arcade for several years.
However, despite Arun’s optimism about the town’s centre, many Littlehampton residents argue that it should have more diversity in the types of stores and businesses there.
Commenting on the Gazette’s Facebook page this week, Sam Perry, said the town’s shopping district had sustained several heavy blows.
“Since April 30, 2012, we have lost, Evans/Dorothy Perkins, Clintons, phone and game shop and now Clarks is closing.”
While Julie O’Hara and Tina Cuddihy feel that there are too many charity shops in the area.
Responding to these concerns, Mrs Nicholls said: “There is a real growing place for charity shops in our town. With things so tight people rely on them more and more. I would ask them would they rather have a charity shop or an empty shop?
“Ultimately, Littlehampton has become one of the most prosperous town’s in the district and we have some interest from major retailers in the pipeline. So it’s a very exciting time for us right now.”
The Works has around 300 stores nationwide and is set to employ around 10 staff to its new Littlehampton branch.
What do you think?
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