No less than 8,000 stores and 140,000 jobs were lost on the high street last year, with former retail giants from Mothercare to Bonmarche falling into administration. Despite this, Southampton has continued to see success in the sector over the Christmas period.
One reflection of Southampton’s retail success comes in the shape of Debenhams’ large-scale store closures, a cull which most Hampshire outlets have avoided. Earlier in the year, the multinational department store operator announced 19 closures across the country, with 50 more expected in coming months. But branches in Southampton, Winchester, Portsmouth, and Fareham have all been spared, in what will be a relief for local shoppers still keen on the high street.
In 2018, Natwest predicted that the South East would be the fastest growing region in the UK by 2020, with its reputation for attracting business opportunities and innovative ideas.
Perhaps this is why Westquay shopping centre has been chosen to be the home of lifestyle retailer Oliver Bonas’s new site on the South Coast, and why John Lewis and Waitrose have opened their first ‘concept store’, complete with ‘experience playgrounds’ and farm shop, there.
Back in June, Wessex Scene contributor Hannah Ward-Glenton wrote a piece outlining the retail opportunities available to shoppers in Southampton, which can be read here.