What shops do we want in Felixstowe town centre?
PUBLISHED: 11:43 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:43 08 May 2019
There are now nearly 20 vacant units in and around Hamilton Road.
With M&S now standing empty and no sign on the horizon of any new occupier, there are fears for the future of other larger outlets.
These are tough times for traders in town centres - and it's a common problem across the country.
A few of Felixstowe's empties are reopening - we have a new interior design shop, a new nail bar, charity shop and a barber's arriving.
But what shops do we want - and need? What shops would we support in Felixstowe and how do we see our town centre developing if it is to thrive and attract people to the resort?
Does the district council's economic development department do enough to try to bring new business?
It was quick to join the discussions and meet M&S when they announced they were pulling out - and council leaders made some very good points to that company about the growth of the town and the number of people who prefer to shop here rather than Ipswich. However, a few years back when Woolworth closed, it was individuals in the town who wrote to the likes of Primark and Peacocks pleading for them to fill the space.
We are all guilty of shopping online for cheaper products and convenience. But when all the shops are gone, internet prices will rise and only convenience will remain.
Shops though need to be ones that provide the goods and services we need if they are to succeed and survive.
Felixstowe is not immune from the problems that are hitting the likes of Ipswich and Colchester. Some towns though are coping better.
Perhaps Felixstowe needs to reinvent itself - become a town of small independents, niche shops, galleries, a sort of Woodbridge-by-the-sea. Or embrace a theme - such as a book town or a food town, with a collection of appropriate outlets to promote it and attract new visitors.
In the end the public will decide - because we have to want to shop in the places that open or more empties will follow.
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