TOWN centres are in a dire state all over the country – and Morecambe’s is no exception.
As more and more of us shop through the internet, at convenient out-of-town supermarkets and cheap discount stores, Morecambe’s many hard-working small, independent shopkeepers are struggling to make ends meet.
So we at The Visitor believe it’s high time we fought back against the decline of the high street.
This is why today, we are launching a brand new campaign called #SOSMorecambe.
SOS, quite simply, stands for Support Our Shops.
The problems faced by small, independent town centre shopkeepers have been well publicised.
We live in tough economic times where:
*Nearly one in six British shops stands vacant, with Morecambe actually topping a league table for having the most empty shops in the UK in 2011.
*Figures show the number of UK town centre stores fell by almost 15,000 between 2000 and 2009 with an estimated further 10,000 losses over the past couple of years.
*Excluding Central London, the number of shoppers visiting UK town centres has fallen by 10% in the last three years.
*And with out-of-town supermarkets now accounting for 97% of total grocery sales and 14% of all non-food sales, no wonder the small independent shops are struggling.
But there was a recent glimmer of hope for Morecambe’s shopping hub, when we were awarded Portas Pilot Town status.
Morecambe received £100,000 of government funding and the chance to tap into a wealth of expertise to help kickstart improvements to the town centre.
A Town Team has already been set up to look at addressing some of the problems.
But £100,000 won’t stretch very far and there is still much work to be done.
This much is clear, we need to Support Our Shops.
So we are sending out an SOS – to our readers, retailers, landlords, the local authorities and to the Government.
All have a part to play in helping to stop the decline of local shops...and not just in Morecambe town centre.
There are many quality shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes throughout Morecambe, the West End, Heysham, Westgate, Bare and Torrisholme.
We need to use them, before we lose them.
And you can follow our campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #SOSMorecambe