Change is the constant in hard-pressed town centres

Halfords pull out of Felixstowe

Halfords pull out of Felixstowe - Credit: Newscast/Mathew Growcoot

So Halfords has closed its Felixstowe store, and The Wharf is shutting its branch in the town, too.

It will leave a huge hole in the town centre – two of the town’s biggest outlets empty, which are going to be very hard to fill in these times.

In addition, Coes is moving from the prominent position it has occupied for decades to the old OMG, in the prime stretch of Hamilton Road.

It will without doubt be a good move for Coes, but having an empty shop greet visitors as they wander from the seafront up Bent Hill will not be a good advert for the shopping centre.

Let’s hope these units can be filled quickly – and that Suffolk Coastal’s economic development officers and the chamber of trade are already emailing major retail companies to inform them of the vacancies and the benefits of Felixstowe to entice them to come to the seaside.

Of course, the town centre is forever changing. There are less than a handful of shops between Boots and Bank Corner still the same from when I arrived in the town just over 30 years ago.

Russell Smith, Boots and Clarks, and possibly the Wimpy, are the only constants.

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Gone are some much-loved shops – such as Timothy Whites, Woolworth, Fine Fare, Phillips newsagents and bookshop, Magpie, Millets, Westbrooks bakers – and others have arrived that are today essential to our current shopping patterns.

It used to be said Hamilton Road was a land of estate agents and shoe shops. Now it’s coffee houses and charity shops that have taken over.

Town centres evolve – perhaps not how we want them to and not always with the shops we want – but Felixstowe’s will not die, whether big stores close or out of town supermarkets open.

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