Several months ago, and almost rather jokingly, I suggested in this column that we will soon have to put up the ‘no more room at the inn’ signs in terms of empty shop premises in Worthing town centre.
Well now that prediction is very close to becoming a reality with our town centre retail offerings almost at bursting point.
Several new businesses have opened including a lovely candle shop on South Street, to replace Yankee Candle, and a new café/restaurant at the seafront end of Montague Place.
On top of this the old Spyglass pub on the seafront is being turned into a fashionable new burgers and cocktails restaurant (both of which I love), the old Yankee Candle shop at the front of the Guildbourne Centre has been let to an as-yet unknown new business, as has the Millets shop on Montague Street.
The Guildbourne Centre is now being re-marketed more aggressively by the letting agents Michael Jones and I’m reliably informed offers are in on a few of the empty shops. So we are nearly full up!
This leaves in the town centre, to my memory, just a few empty premises, including what was Busby’s bakery and a very old Boots opticians down by the Poundland – even this has had its letting boards removed, which is a positive sign.
I guess the question is, why do all these shops want to open in Worthing?
I would suggest it’s a combination of many factors including a very good cheap parking offer by the council, some big spending on town centre improvements and events by the Town Centre Initiative, several new investments to come (including the rebuilds of Teville Gate and the police station site), and an extremely high footfall record.
But not only that, when a town centre is full of shops it does encourage others to open up as well.
Our bustling town centre is absolutely smashing others out of the park with its shop vacancy rate now just 5.2 per cent, compared to the national average hovering around 10 per cent.
Make no mistake, if you want a varied and interesting shopping offer then look no further than what’s right here on your doorstep.
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