Economic downturn bites as two shops close

TOWN centre businesses have been warned the closure of two prominent High Street shops is ‘a sign of the times’.

Priceless Shoes has been shut after its owners went into administration, and Clarks Shoes will close its doors for the last time today (Thurs).

All seven staff at Priceless have been made redundant, while the eight people employed at Clarks will also lose their jobs.

Town centre manager Steve Townsend has said the news is indicative of the current economic climate, and has warned other businesses in the resort that the climate is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Barratts, which owns Priceless, went into administration on December 8, with the jobs of more than 1,600 employees nationwide under threat.

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Although joint administrators Deloitte announced on Monday that a buyer had been found for some of the group’s stores, 39 stores and 14 concessions have been closed and 680 staff made redundant.

A spokesman for Clarks said a ‘business decision’ had been made not to renew the store’s lease. The store is set to have its last day of trading today (Thurs).

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Mr Townsend said: “I think it is a sign of the times unfortunately. It is the first time that two such spots have been vacant in the high street for as long as I can recall.

“I think people are now buying shoes from supermarkets, so I think it is a trend on the high street at the moment.

“I think it is disappointing that Clarks has decided not to renew the lease on its store, but unfortunately the fact that the group owning Priceless went into administration is something that is out of our hands.”

Deloitte’s Daniel Butters said: “Barratts and Priceless Shoes have faced a downturn in trading as a result of the difficult economic conditions.

“This has been exacerbated by the unseasonably mild weather in recent weeks which resulted in fewer sales across new winter lines.”

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