Big name shops 'will return to Gloucester' promise city leaders
SHOPPERS have reasons to be cheerful in Gloucester as confidence grows around the city's ability to buck national trends.
A new report shows traditional big name retailers and chains closed stores at a rate of 20 a day last year.
National brands have been replaced by soaring numbers of pound stores, betting shops, pawnbrokers, coffee shops and charity outlets.
And while there are plenty of them in Gloucester, civic bosses are optimistic 'quality' names will soon find a reason to head back to the city.
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One of them, Topshop, is investing significantly in its Eastgate Street unit, which shut for a month yesterday for a massive refit. It will open again on March 27.
Eastgate Shopping Centre has also posted figures that show the proportion of vacant shops there is four per cent lower than the national average and footfall figures are the same as January 2012, despite a national 3.9 per cent decline. But the a UK report, by PricewaterhouseCoopers, showed a huge rise in budget shops and betting outlets nationally.
In recent months, Poundworld, value store B&M and Paddy Power have all opened in units in Gloucester vacated by the likes of Currys and Marks and Spencer. Charity shop Sports Traider opens in The Oxebode next month and the YMCA has taken a shop at the old Comet store at St Oswald's retail park.
HMV will vacate its King's Walk unit in the next few weeks too, following in the footsteps of Jessops, but clothes shop Republic has been saved after the chain was bought by Sports Direct.
Gloucester City Council leader Paul James said: "Gloucester's had its fair share of stores closing like everywhere else but we've also had more than our fair share of new entrants and that's a reflection of the confidence in the city centre."
He said Gloucester's heritage brings visitors into the city centre and that much hinges on the King's Quarter redevelopment to bring big names back.
Marie Smith, 52, from Brockworth, said her trips into Gloucester had become less frequent. "So many shops are just all the same now," she said. "I do hope things can change and we can get a few good names coming in but I'm not so sure it will be easy."
Liz Barnwell, of Marketing Gloucester, responsible for driving tourism, added: "King's Quarter is really the crucial project for getting big names back into the city."