Durham market traders are trying to win back shoppers who have “lost their love” for the city.
Retail in the Durham has been in the spotlight because of the growing numbers of empty units in Silver Street.
Colin Wilkes, manager of Durham’s indoor market, home to around 50 independent traders, said: “We’re looking to claw back those people who live within five miles of Durham and get them to come back.
“If they’ve fallen out of love with Durham, we want them to come back. There’s a lot to shout about.
“The independents are the lifeblood of the city. They provide a lot of vitality and they are different from what you can get on the edge of town. The message we want to get out there is that Durham is alive and kicking.
“We ask people to leave their perceptions at the door and come and see what there is in Durham.”
Concerns have been raised in recent weeks about a number of empty shops in Silver Street.
Pret a Manger is closing on Thursday, while Marks and Spencer’s will vacate its store on April 7.
East, which is in administration, is currently holding a closing down sale, while on the other side of Framwelgate Bridge, Grainger Games closed suddenly on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the former Krispy Kreme, Greenwoods and Post Office are all empty.
It is not all bad news for the street however, as fashion store Psyche is due to open on Friday, above new cafe Riverview Kitchen.
Richard Toynbee, manager at the Prince Bishop’s shopping centre, said: “The retail footprint of Durham is quite small so when we lose the likes of BHS and M&S the impact is much more than it would be in other cities.
“It leaves a big hole but it does mean there are opportunities as well. There are still a lot of positives.
“Look at other areas like Saddler Street and Elvet Bridge, where there are a lot of independents and a lot of vitality. It’s providing something different to a soulless retail park or online.”
Mr Wilkes added: “The fact we’ve got the development going on across the river show’s there is a belief in Durham that’s led to the level of investment in The Gates and Milburngate.
“We’ve got to accept that retail parks claim a lot of people and the internet claims a lot of people but there is no substitute to coming in for a day out and getting a bite to eat and a bit of a shop. Where nicer to do it than in Durham?”
Durham County Council and Durham’s Business Improvement District are working with retailers on a strategy to tackle the number of empty units in Silver Street.Tags: Durham Colin Wilkes