Arrivals of B&M, Jack Wills, Tiger and Pandora help fill up 85% of Ipswich town centre's shop spaces
PUBLISHED: 16:49 30 November 2016 | UPDATED: 16:49 30 November 2016
As Ipswich fills up its empty shop spaces, what would you like to see in the old Grimwades, BHS and post office buildings in the town centre?
There are now fewer empty stores on Ipswich town centre’s main shopping street than at any time in the recent past – great news for the town as the Christmas shopping season gets into full swing.
However, despite more than 85% of shops being occupied, there is still much work to be done.
Today we ask you what you’d like to see in some of the remaining units which have no long-term tenant like the three listed above.
The main shopping area – Carr Street, Tavern Street, and Westgate Street – is almost fully occupied from Major’s Corner in the east to Hyde Park Corner at the West End.
Last week’s opening of B&M in Carr Street means there is not a single vacant unit on the north side of the street – and there is only one temporary store on this side. The MenKind gift store in Tavern Street has a sign saying the shop unit is To Let.
On the south side of the street significant investment over the last year has seen new stores including Jack Wills arrive in town joining other newcomers like Tiger.
As well as the main shopping centre being full, the town is also reaping the benefits of the opening of the new restaurants in the Buttermarket Centre.
Names like Wagamama and Coast to Coast have helped encourage many people to stay longer in the town centre after they come in to do their shopping.
Ipswich Central’s most recent survey showed 85% of retail, restaurant, and business units in the town centre are now occupied – but bosses believe that figure has increased over recent months.
A different survey by the borough council came up with a similar figure.
Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter said businesses in the heart of the town were much more confident about their prospects this year than they had been in previous festive seasons.
He said: “When you look at the kind of names that have been attracted to the town, there has been a growth right across the spectrum.
“We’ve seen the arrival of Jack Wills and Swarovski was well as the new B&M store.
“But there’s still a long way to go and we must not be complacent. The main street is looking very full but there is still work to be done to attract new businesses elsewhere.”
And he said visitors were looking for much more than just shops. The increase in the number of restaurants and coffee shops had raised eyebrows over recent years, but their arrival encouraged visitors and residents alike to spend longer in the town centre.
“If people come in and break their shopping with a coffee or lunch that encourages them to spend longer looking around the shops and spending their money in the town – and that is happening in Ipswich.”
Council Leader David Ellesmere pointed out that more shops meant more jobs being created: “In recent months a number of quality retailers have moved into Ipswich expressing a vote of confidence in the town centre.
“The Mayor has just officially opened a major new B&M store in Carr Street, bringing more than 80 jobs to the town.”
It was not just about national names either: “Our independent shops, bars and restaurants in St Peter’s Street and St Nicholas Street continue to attract visitors from all over Suffolk and improve our town centre offer.
“However, we are not complacent and are doing our best to attract even more high-end retailers.
“We are also continuing to invest in the town centre, building a new multi–storey car park and working on plans with our Ipswich Vision partners to create a new–look Cornhill.”
What shops would you like to see come to Ipswich? And what other improvements does the town centre need? Email email@example.com