A number of Bournemouth stores are having to close their doors after financial constraints and limited sales have contributed to the decline of high streets in the area.
The recent closures to Solutions Inc. on Old Christchurch road and Happy Buddha in Boscombe’s Sovereign Centre seem to mirror this trend with both stores facing closure due to financial issues and excessive business rates in the area.
In 2018 alone, the town centre lost national stores such as Jones, Maplin’s, M&S and Poundworld in what has since been described as a largely unsuccessful year for retailers.
Tony Brown, CEO of department store chain, Beales, said: “Business rates have not kept up with rateable value of properties.”
“Most businesses, especially bigger businesses, have their cash flow and their working capital calculated on the value of their assets which is usually property and if that property from a rented point of view, goes backwards, then their ability to borrow cash against it goes backwards as well.”
The rise of online sales has also contributed to a lack of footfall in Bournemouth’s retail areas, with high street clothes retailer Next seeing physical sales down 9% and online sales up 15% over the Christmas period.
The town centre Business Improvement District is currently working with businesses and retailers in the town to bring the community back to the high street and promote economic prosperity in the area.
Paul Kinvig, Bournemouth BID CEO, said: “I wouldn’t say the high street is in decline. What we’re seeing happening to high streets on both a national and local level is a natural response to the change in customer habits because of things like online shopping.”
“What people want from towns now is an experience of which shopping is a part. So the challenge there is how do you make the town centre an experience for people coming in?.”
The council are also investing in the improvement of retail in Bournemouth and communication is ongoing with interested parties overseas.
Conservative councillor and former president of the Bournemouth Chamber of Trade, Nigel Hedges, said: “Being a conservative run and dominated council, we understand business and business is the lifeblood of the council. We’ve sent delegations to China, who are very interested in Bournemouth because we have a premiership football team.”
“Quite frankly, we want to create a united front where companies are saying I think Bournemouth is the place to do business.”