Billericay High Street hit by store closures

Trevor Draper

Trevor Draper

First published in News

BILLERICAY High Street is “just about surviving” after several businesses have left the town, according to traders.

Sports Heritage, next to Argos, and a greengrocers, in TheWalk, are the latest businesses to shut their doors for good.

Italian restaurant Strada has also been closed for the past two weeks, although it is expected to be replaced by another chain.

Businessman Trevor Draper was forced to shut gift and homeware store the Emporium, although he still owns the Cook Shop.

He said: “People are not using the town and they are not shopping here.

“Footfall is down but rents have not been reduced to reflect that. Customers are demanding, but we need to be making a profit to be able to buy new stock.

“We have a loyal customer base in the town, but they do not have as much money as they used to. As a town we are just about surviving.

“When we were in the middle of the recession a few years ago shops would rarely stay empty for a few weeks, let alone a few months. It’s much more of a concern now.”

Mr Draper has been campaigning for improved parking in the town for the past ten years.

He believes more car parks would encourage people to visit Billericay High Street.

Charges at car parks in the town have already been scrapped on weekends and bank holidays.

Mr Draper, added: “We are full of independant shops and businesss and we need to sort out the parking issues.

“It’s insulting for the residents of our town. The council is not concerned about taking revenue from shoppers and traders, but they are not given them back anything we need as a town.”

Phil Turner, leader of Basildon Council, said money has already been ploughed into new paving and CCTV cameras in a bid to boost Billericay.

He added: “I’m a great sympathiser with traders. We have got to find things we can do in the High Street to keep it alive, not just for the traders but also for our residents.

“If we don’t do something, people will shop further afield, there is plenty of competition around.

“Billericay is an example of why we can’t take anything for granted.”

Comments (8)

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10:09am Tue 1 Jul 14

Dan_ says...

Unless you are within walking distance, it is much more tempting to go to Lakeside, Bluewater, Chelmsford, Basildon. Free parking (in some cases), & more choice. High-street's are funny; I think even though in reality you won't walk any further to shops than you would in a shopping complex, I think the obvious linear geography means that the perception is that everything is far away. I think in Billericay's case, it might just be that it eventually ends up being populated by more specialist, high-end, high-price outlets. Billericay for the most part is after all fairly affluent, and a highly desirable London satellite town.
Unless you are within walking distance, it is much more tempting to go to Lakeside, Bluewater, Chelmsford, Basildon. Free parking (in some cases), & more choice. High-street's are funny; I think even though in reality you won't walk any further to shops than you would in a shopping complex, I think the obvious linear geography means that the perception is that everything is far away. I think in Billericay's case, it might just be that it eventually ends up being populated by more specialist, high-end, high-price outlets. Billericay for the most part is after all fairly affluent, and a highly desirable London satellite town. Dan_
  • Score: 4

10:20am Tue 1 Jul 14

Howard Cháse says...

Convert all the empty units into housing.

Take a bit of the strain off the greenbelt and open spaces south of the A127.....
Convert all the empty units into housing. Take a bit of the strain off the greenbelt and open spaces south of the A127..... Howard Cháse
  • Score: -7

11:31am Tue 1 Jul 14

2020hindsight says...

Trevor Draper makes the argument that footfall is down and that increasing car park capacity would encourage more people to visit Billericay because people are not shopping in the town. Excluding the issue of where another car park could be sited, I really don't think lack of people or parking is the answer to this particular problem. Billericay car parks are more crowded than they have ever been; queues occur on most days now rather than just Fridays and Saturdays so it's simply that people aren't using those shops. I'm sure high rents play a part - but that's a commercial reality. There's no simple answer but people have to want to use the stores. In my own case I loved the Emporium when it was further down the High Street and had large windows. I tend to forget about it where it is now because of the lack of store front (even though I also use the Cook Shop). As for the greengrocers, the problem is that relatively few people use The Walk (even less so now there are two unwelcoming empty shops at the Waitrose end). One approach that needs to be taken further is local independents working together : the Billericay Brewery supplying its beer to Mason's Butchers for their new (very tasty) sausages is a classic example of what could work.
Trevor Draper makes the argument that footfall is down and that increasing car park capacity would encourage more people to visit Billericay because people are not shopping in the town. Excluding the issue of where another car park could be sited, I really don't think lack of people or parking is the answer to this particular problem. Billericay car parks are more crowded than they have ever been; queues occur on most days now rather than just Fridays and Saturdays so it's simply that people aren't using those shops. I'm sure high rents play a part - but that's a commercial reality. There's no simple answer but people have to want to use the stores. In my own case I loved the Emporium when it was further down the High Street and had large windows. I tend to forget about it where it is now because of the lack of store front (even though I also use the Cook Shop). As for the greengrocers, the problem is that relatively few people use The Walk (even less so now there are two unwelcoming empty shops at the Waitrose end). One approach that needs to be taken further is local independents working together : the Billericay Brewery supplying its beer to Mason's Butchers for their new (very tasty) sausages is a classic example of what could work. 2020hindsight
  • Score: 11

12:49pm Tue 1 Jul 14

John Right says...

The popularity of any High Street or town shopping area has had it's day, shopping centres like Lakeside and Bluewater offer security, convenience and the internet have taken over, after all who wants to drive, pay to park, trudge around looking for a shop, on their precious days off, there's the costs before you even get to the shop you seek, the wasted time of not finding your desired item, and a feeling you've been taken for a mug.
Turn those empty useless shops into living accommodation, and latch on to the simple fact, most people are sick of being ripped off.
The popularity of any High Street or town shopping area has had it's day, shopping centres like Lakeside and Bluewater offer security, convenience and the internet have taken over, after all who wants to drive, pay to park, trudge around looking for a shop, on their precious days off, there's the costs before you even get to the shop you seek, the wasted time of not finding your desired item, and a feeling you've been taken for a mug. Turn those empty useless shops into living accommodation, and latch on to the simple fact, most people are sick of being ripped off. John Right
  • Score: 0

5:07pm Tue 1 Jul 14

Druggie Scumbag says...

Although Billericay has more than its fair share of people with plenty of expendable income. The sort of shops that are seemingly struggling, The Emporium and The Cookshop have simply failed to grasp that the sort of prices they charge are no longer acceptable to the sort of customers they built their businesses on. In short, they have failed to move with the times. I truly sympathise on the matter of rents but that has been an issue in the High Street for decades. I don't think additional or cheaper parking will have much of an impact on the speciality shops. Truth is I fear they are doomed. I heard many argue that the Pound Shop would be wrong for Billericay but it does a decent trade in terms of footfall. Perhaps they actually got their business model right and others need to re-assess.
Although Billericay has more than its fair share of people with plenty of expendable income. The sort of shops that are seemingly struggling, The Emporium and The Cookshop have simply failed to grasp that the sort of prices they charge are no longer acceptable to the sort of customers they built their businesses on. In short, they have failed to move with the times. I truly sympathise on the matter of rents but that has been an issue in the High Street for decades. I don't think additional or cheaper parking will have much of an impact on the speciality shops. Truth is I fear they are doomed. I heard many argue that the Pound Shop would be wrong for Billericay but it does a decent trade in terms of footfall. Perhaps they actually got their business model right and others need to re-assess. Druggie Scumbag
  • Score: 8

10:30pm Tue 1 Jul 14

CHRISTMAS CAROL says...

Shame, nothing to do with parking, people either have not got the money or they are shopping on line. Large supermarkets dont help and hooray for the 99p and £1 shops
Shame, nothing to do with parking, people either have not got the money or they are shopping on line. Large supermarkets dont help and hooray for the 99p and £1 shops CHRISTMAS CAROL
  • Score: 3

10:43pm Tue 1 Jul 14

Steve H says...

I like Billericay and a walk along the High Street, however, I have given up as it is so difficult to park at a weekend. I have the money to spend, I would rather not waste it though driving to Billericay and having to drive back again because I cannot park.
I like Billericay and a walk along the High Street, however, I have given up as it is so difficult to park at a weekend. I have the money to spend, I would rather not waste it though driving to Billericay and having to drive back again because I cannot park. Steve H
  • Score: 3

4:10pm Wed 2 Jul 14

Newlyretired says...

Maybe people don't shop locally because there are too many restaurants. Also I believe plans for new homes in the area were quashed. If these new houses had been built at affordable prices then youngsters would have bought their custom to the High Street and as a result a wider range of shops would be present.
Maybe people don't shop locally because there are too many restaurants. Also I believe plans for new homes in the area were quashed. If these new houses had been built at affordable prices then youngsters would have bought their custom to the High Street and as a result a wider range of shops would be present. Newlyretired
  • Score: 0

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