Traders unite in bid to save high street

Businessman Kevin Horkin concerned about the high street in Clitheroe
Businessman Kevin Horkin concerned about the high street in Clitheroe
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Shoppers are being urged to get behind Clitheroe high street as traders overwhelmingly back plans to save the town centre.

The plea comes after a number of independent retailers have announced they are all the shut up shop within a matter of weeks of each other.

Andertons Ribble Valley Butchers, Urban Sheep and the Chocolate Box are located within 500 metres of each other in the town and all three of them recently told loyal customers that a decision had been made to stop trading.

In addition, Vanilla cake shop, based in Moor Lane, has also permanently closed its doors.

The move is being blamed on a number of reasons, including a decline in footfall.

Since the announcements, an action group is urgently calling for a business confidence survey of high street traders to be carried out in Clitheroe and Whalley, while retailers are simply asking shoppers to stay loyal to their local stores.

Kevin Horkin, who runs four businesses in the town, believes footfall has declined by 10 to 15% in Clitheroe in the last year.

The leading member of Clitheroe Town Action Group commented: “Footfall is critical to a high street retailer and at the moment it’s down. “It’s hitting traders hard, in some cases too hard, and they are making the life changing business decision to leave.

“That’s why we urgently need to carry out a survey of business confidence to establish just what businesses are thinking and how much of a difference a new market development would make.

“High street businesses in Clitheroe are crying out for a large scale initiative to act as catalyst and drive footfall into the town centre.”

Similar views were expressed by Ian Sowerbutts, of Sowerbutts furniture store. He said: “Yes I do feel footfall is down, but Clitheroe is still a very vibrant town with lots of unique, independent shops.”

Meanwhile, Charlotte Eccles who runs Raffia gift shop in the town, states its not all doom and gloom.

She commented: “I’m having my busiest year so far at Raffia. I’m noticing an increase in new customers owing to the recent housing developments and I have a renewed love for my job.

“Yes, rents are high, it comes with the territory of trading in a great area, but fortunately there are lovely customers out there who want to shop local and help pay those rents.”

Looking ahead, Owen Phillips, president of Clitheroe Chamber of Trade, is optimistic major events planned throughout the summer months will entice shoppers.

He said: “Clitheroe traders welcome the summer months of events and hopefully continued good weather, to see more people coming to the town.

“Whilst nationally we have seen difficulties including store closures of some high profile high street brands, Clitheroe still has its individuality as great place for tourists and local shoppers alike.

“Traditionally, shops have moved on from time to time, for a variety of reasons. But at the Chamber we’re not resting on our laurels, we have some exciting plans to promote trade around the town, putting up bunting once again to ready for the variety of festivals which bring people to the town over the summer.

“We are getting the message out we have a great mixture of independent shops and national brands and encourage people to come to Clitheroe to shop local.”